S5S originated from a collaborative trip to Shanghai with the Altered Barbie show in 2005. There we found that traditional courtyard homes were replaced by a sprawl of high-rises. Similar to the phenomena of post-WWII suburban sprawl in America, the family clan was broken up into the nuclear family of today. The children are separated from the tutelage of the wise elders while both parents work, contributing to the loss of culture and tradition in modern society. The rise of monolithic buildings of condos and apartments coincide with increased consumerism as they embrace capitalism. The rapidly increasing Chinese GDP is followed by increased pollution. In recent years caught up with the greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S. economy. During our travels in Shanghai, we met many Chinese contemporary artists who are now questioning their parents era under the Mao regime, parodying corporate consumerism of today, and showing concern for the local environment. The reserved Chinese are now speaking up through the medium of art.
This is where Barbie sees the woman in the glass. She is the cruelest judge. She has been blamed for bulimia, crippled after years of strutting in high-heels, and in addition to the numerous face-lifts, she may consider removing her lower rib-cage to achieve her youthful figure. After a half a century, she chooses a silver gilded door leading to a rite of passage. Here she finds a renewed adulthood and breaks out of the mainstream American concept of beauty and social stigma. The new Altered Barbie metamorphoses and naturally blossoms into a diversity of attitude, social roles, politics and culture expressed through the medium of art.