Our internet is a fun and fascinating tool, but its laziness can be confounding. Pertinent background information is so often avoided, or eschewed in favor of propagating misinformation.
A small case in point: Images of the oddly hairy baby doll shown below have been circulating on the web for several years now, most often presented as a lone, wacky 'WTF' photo, and almost always with the implication that it was spotted for sale in a marketplace for cheap Asian-produced toys.
Almost never mentioned is that 'You Can Shave The Baby' was never a consumer item, but rather an art object created in 1995 by Zbigniew Libera, consisting of a set of ten matching dolls in ten matching cardboard boxes.
As described at the Polish artist's website; "...His works - - photographs, video films, installations, objects and drawings - - piercingly and subversively (in an intellectual way) play with the stereotypes of contemporary culture."
In this vein of presenting 'transformed toys', Libera preceded 'You Can Shave The Baby' with 'Ken's Aunt' in 1994, a similar set of heavier-set Barbie-like dolls wearing unflattering foundation undergarments - -
- - he followed in 1996 with perhaps his most famous and controversial work, 'Correcting Device: LEGO Concentration Camp' - - Three editions of 7 different highly customized boxed Lego System sets.
From Zbigniew Libera's Artist's Statement included in an exhibition at The Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota: "My ability to work with objects is taken from everyday urban contemporary life. In my study of the development of correctional devices and educational toys, I see such devices reveal more about a society and its mechanisms for creating and enforcing its norms than any study of society could.
"'Lego', a construction made partially from various Lego kits, takes us into a village with a mental hospital, Stalin's prison, World War II and Bosnian concentration camps. Thus, I feel I mix historical with contemporary references to represent our world, our little inferno, as built and sanctified by norms. "'Eroica', is a four-boxed set of toy soldier-sized women figures. They are based on classical models.
"They are a reminder that in the 1990s no toy soldier set is complete without the inclusion of women, who have become the special targets of victimization in genocidal settings such as Bosnia, where rape camps have been well documented. Such is the fashion of 'heroic' actions of armies in genocidal and even less violent encounters where women are victims. "During an academic conference in Brussels in December, 1997, an agitated audience, who felt that the Lego Concentration Camp was a real toy which was available for sale, demanded that I comment about why I constructed it.
"My response then, as it is now, was: 'I am from Poland. I've been poisoned.'"