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John Miller

The Fantasy of the Fantasy (1993/2016)

This piece by John Miller is a remake of “The Fantasy of the Fantasy,” the 1993 edition he made for Texte zur Kunst, issue 11, “Feminismen.” “No gender specificity, not even in the multiples! Neither our selection of artists nor their works are limited to a single gender,” read the accompanying descriptive text. As the current “Fashion” issue now stars all kinds of genders, Barbie and Ken are still only two; this reminds us all the more so of consumer culture’s ingrained anachronism, which is further underscored by the fact that these dolls, made of plastic, are molded from a base material of the postwar American dream (Mattel Inc.’s Barbie launched in 1959, in fact inspired by the German doll Bild-Lilli). In this work, such stuck-ness is literalized as Miller plants these figures, leaving their heads and arms mobile, pelvis-deep in plastic flowerpots that he has slathered in a blend of modeling clay and acrylic paint – the abject gunk that, similarly applied to other consumer objects, became a trademark of his art in the 1980s and ’90s.

Barbie and friends, among many other mannequins and dolls, are frequent revenants in Miller’s work – nearly always caught, in various states of undress and damage, in all-too-human situations. It’s their very imperfections that make the “sex appeal of the inorganic” so irresistible. For this reprisal of “The Fantasy of the Fantasy,” Miller has used a variety of dolls, with variable hair colors and skin tones. Our picture shows Fab Life Beach Nikki, her pink sunglasses pushed back in her hair, and Beach Ken. Unfazed by their quite awkward situation, they welcome, smiling, the bright future that is surely theirs.

Plastic doll, plastic planter, acrylic modeling paste, female figure (ca. 20.3 × 20.3 × 17.8 cm) or male figure (ca. 21.6 × 20.3 × 20.3 cm), edition of 80 + 20 A.P. With numbered and signed certificate, single piece: € 350.- plus shipping / as couple: € 650.– plus shipping.