Like most boys of a certain generation, I had an Action Man. Action Man was the British equivalent of America’s G.I. Joe. A twelve-inch doll with movable parts, “gripping hands,” short-cropped hair, and sometimes a stubbly beard. It sounds like a sex toy. Maybe it was. Most likely not as Action Man didn’t have a dick.
I never thought of him as some kind of ideal man. Action Man may have had a ripped body, a macho scar on his cheek, and a military wardrobe the envy of every tin-pot dictator but he had no dick. Action Man was just a piece of plastic that I gave meaning by inventing various games by which to play with him. This was mainly fighting Nazi zombies, escaping Frankenstein’s laboratory, and the occasional scientific experiment like testing the law of gravity by throwing Action Man out of a bedroom window with a homemade handkerchief parachute. Action Man was just a toy that lived through my imagination until books, records and girls came along.
Annelies Hofmeyr uses her imagination to cast Barbie in various satiric images that challenge gender identity. Hofmeyr is a South African conceptual artist who operates under the name WIT MYT. This is pronounced as “vit mate” and according to Hofemyr:
WIT stems from the Afrikaans word for WHITE and MYT, a derogatory term for a domestic worker, a job usually reserved for coloured (mixed race) and black people. The same phonetic word in Dutch (the colonisers of South Africa), means girl.
Hofmeyr was born in South Africa sometime in the 1980s, the daughter of a gunsmith father and a British mother. She studied Fine Art and Graphic Design in Cape Town before beginning her peripatetic life traveling around the world due to a “combination of study debt” and South Africa’s “strained political situation.” Living in various countries, Hofmeyr studied a Contemporary Jewelry course in Melbourne, Australia. This started her career creating “Contemporary Adornment” and conceptual art.
Hofmeyr started her Trophy Wife Barbie pictures on the day of her divorce. Her first photograph featured Barbie clutching Ken’s decapitated head with the caption “Yay! My divorce went through today!” underneath. She posts her pictures on her Instagram page. Hofmeyr uses Barbie to make satirical and politically-charged comment about gender and everyday sexism. As Hofmeyr has said:
She has been judged by her appearance and now that her situation has changed (and she’s no longer a wife) she needs to find her identity outside of her label.