Italy’s Catholic bishops have reacted with anger toward a contemporary art show that will open in Buenos Aires next month, which features Barbie and Ken as the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
Argentinian artists Marienela Perelli and Pool Paolini produced the various dolls, a set of 33, for a show named “Barbie, The Plastic Religion” that will open on October 11. On the artists’ Facebook page, other religious figures from Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism are depicted using the same dolls.
The collection also includes a Barbie version of Joan of Arc, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin of Lourdes. Ken is featured as Saint Roch, Saint Sebastian and Buddha.
The artists, however, chose not to depict Islam’s Prophet Muhammad because they have “a great respect” for Islam. They noted that they didn’t intend to offend any religion.
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The dolls have provoked widespread criticism from Argentina to France.
SIR, an Italian website promoted by the Italian bishops conference, asked: “What is the difference between provocation and bad taste?”
The bishops’ website has instructed parents to explain to children that a doll is not always a gift. It also asked parents to deconstruct the “fictitious role” and explain the true story behind the dolls.