institute of contemporary arts august 2002
Suicide Bomber Barbie conflates Western commodification with Palestinian
desperation. Religious and capitalist dogmas struggle within Barbie’s
idealised form, in an artwork of potent incongruity. It is a work
whose political stridency is tempered by a well placed humour.
Tyszko’s work might be described as being in the tradition
of the long lost art of agitprop. ‘Capitalism defeats dissent
and revolution’ Tyszko says, ‘not through direct confrontation,
but through commodification.It sells back at a profit the signs,
styles and symbols of revolution.’
his appropriation of a consumerist icon, the artist creates an
emphatic subversion of this process, the artist seeking to help
create the conditions of political change.
A recent interview with a nine year old Palestinian girl had her
saying she had wanted to be a doctor, but could now no longer
study or sleep at night, and now only wanted to be a martyr. Tyszko
says of her that ‘she has effectively bought the notion
of suicide bombing as a lifestyle choice – it has become
aspirational, an off the shelf peer led option.’
Bomber Barbie draws attention to certain kinds of moral, emotional,
and political equivalence, which uncomfortably exist within the
nationalistic and political systems that contain them. That these
systems are dysfunctional, goes without saying.