At the recent opening of her exhibition, “Drown the Dolls,” at Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City, Daena Title described the impetus for her paintings of sunken Barbies– who float in shimmering pools with their gold-manes streaming and vacant sex goddess faces unperturbed. “I’ve always been interested in images of women and how society reflects those images back at us,” Title said. “That’s what I’m doing in these swimming pools. I’ve taken the dolls and submerged them, so what I’ve painted are grotesquely distorted, faulty images. It’s a metaphor for the faulty mirror society presents to women – images that aren’t any more real or attainable than living under water.
“I have nothing against Mattel; they just made a doll,” Title continued. “I’m against women spending all their creative energy trying to weigh the right weight and to look a certain way.”
Cheryl Hines (Cheryl David on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) Rena Sofer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and others speak about their Barbie experiences on a videotape monitor in the gallery, as well as on a Facebook page on the exhibition. Some recall how disappointed they were when their breasts did not “come in” like the amply-bosomed Barbie.
In some of the paintings, a docile Barbie is held underwater by a giant hand – the hand of a little girl. “Because these images are foisted on our girls, there’s a lot of submerged desire and anger we grow up with as women,” Title said.
Proudly looking on was Title’s husband, actor Jason Alexander (George on “Seinfeld,”) who said he was amazed by his wife’s talent when she began painting 15 years into their marriage.
I couldn’t resist asking Alexander what his iconic character of George would say to the iconic Barbie, if given the chance. Alexander’s eyes took on a George-like glint as he said in character: “Where do I meet her?”
Video by Jay Firestone