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'Barbie Death Camp' Art Exhibit At Burning Man Festival Met With Backlash, Protests

'Barbie Death Camp' Art Exhibit At Burning Man Festival Met With Backlash, Protests


A Burning Man exhibit is under fire for its tasteless display of nude Barbie Dolls recreating the Holocaust.

The San Francisco branch of the Anti-Defamation League called the tasteless recreation of Auschwitz, in which G.I. Joe figures with guns force hundreds of Barbies into two life-sized ovens, "deeply offensive."

Some of the dolls appear to be sent for crucifixion on pink crosses.

BM2008 American Dream_ Welcome to Barbie Death

Burning Man, which ended on September 3, is an annual festival that takes place over a period of eight days in Nevada's Black Rock Desert where attendees explore artistic self-expression.

The disturbing display, called, "Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro," sparked outrage among festival attendees and escalated into an altercation leading to an arrest and a broken vehicle tail light on August 31.

A banner draped across the back of an RV tied to the diorama described the Barbie Death Camp as "the friendliest concentration camp," while another read, "arbeit macht plastik frei," which referenced the mantra enforced at Auschwitz, meaning, "work makes you free."

While some attendees interpreted the display as pushing boundaries with their social commentary about American consumerism, others were disgusted.

One festival attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, told J Weekly:

"I don't think I've ever seen anything so offensive."

The internet agreed.

Seth Brysk, the ADL's regional director responded after being flooded with complaints.

He said that the "inappropriate" display depicting the systematic extermination of Jewish people is an exploitation of the right to free expression.

"It tarnishes the memories of those who died, including the 6 million Jews and 5 million others."
"Particularly in the current environment, where we have a confluence of survivors no longer around to tell their stories, and increased extremism and hatred, we think it's more important than ever to preserve and respect the memory of the Holocaust."

The exhibit's creator, James Jacoby, 65, has helped set up exhibits in Burning Man for 20 years.

Although he is Jewish, he downplayed the controversy of Barbie Death Camp.

"It's a little dark. [But] part of the magic of [Burning Man] is that it's not vanilla, Disneyland, pro-family. There's a lot of nudity. A lot of sex. A lot of drugs. It's not a family-friendly environment. And our camp isn't, either."

Not everyone is fuming.

Ron Feldman, who claims to have donated to the ADL, is aware that there are "a lot of potentially offensive things at Burning Man."

However, he referenced other depictions in art such as the number "Springtime For Hitler" from the Broadway musical, The Producers.

"It's ironic. It's political critique and commentary. It's definitely not anti-Jewish in any way."

Jacoby reiterated that the festival is "not a safe space."

"It's not Yale University. You don't get to run and hide from something you don't like."

Jacoby told J Weekly that he got the idea for Barbie Death Camp from a National Lampoon joke, and his work is a part of "Barbie Death Village," a Burning Man campsite.

Tickets to stay in the Barbie Death Village costs between $100 and $200 on top of the $425 Burning Man entrance fee.

For those disgusted by his vision, he only had this to say in response:

"There's 1,100 theme camps. If you don't like ours, go to another one."


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