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Earlier this week, in anticipation of International Women’s Day, toy manufacturer Mattel announced its new Inspiring Women series of Barbies. The first three dolls in the collection represent aviator Amelia Earhart, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and, somewhat ironically, communist artist Frida Kahlo.
“Born in Mexico in 1907, artist, activist, and feminist icon, Frida Kahlo, was and continues to be a symbol of strength, originality, and unwavering passion,” reads the extremely vague description on the Barbie website. “Overcoming a number of obstacles to follow her dream of becoming a fine artist, Frida persevered and gained recognition for her unique style and perspective. With her vibrant palette and mix of realism and fantasy, she addressed important topics like identity, class, and race, making her voice, and the voices of girls and women alike, heard.”
The “number of obstacles” Kahlo had to overcome included childhood polio and a devastating bus accident, which left the artist permanently disabled, yet her Barbie likeness looks just like all the others, complete with those inhuman proportions. Furthermore, it seems Mattel plucked her ultra-feminist unibrow.
Shortly after the dolls were announced, Kahlo’s great-niece, Mara de Anda Romeo, came forward, saying Mattel had no right to use her great aunt’s image. According to the Associated Press, Romeo doesn’t want money. She just wants a redesign. “We will talk to them about regularizing this situation, and by regularizing I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was,” Romeo’s lawyer, Pablo Sangri told AP.
In the company’s defense, Mattel said in a statement that it had worked closely with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, “the owner of all rights related to the name and identity of Frida Kahlo, on the creation of this doll.” But Sangri told Agence France-Presse that the corporation failed to tell Kahlo’s relatives of its plans, and, furthermore, a now-expired contract between the two never granted the corporation rights to the artist’s image anyway, just “certain uses of her name.”
“I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida’s,” Romeo told AFP, “not this doll with light-colored eyes. I would have liked her to have a unibrow, for her clothes to be made by Mexican artisans.”
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…