Pop-Up Exhibit Takes Aim at Toxic Masculinity With Provocative Takes on the Ken Doll
On Saturday, Oct. 13, an interactive pop-up exhibit called “The Modern Ken” took place in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, and at its heart was a critique of the toxic masculinity that’s still so prevalent in modern-day society. And it did so in a fun, provocative way, referencing a slew of Ken doll creations that were never likely to get mass-produced by Mattel.
We’re talking Nonbinary Yoga Ken, Rich Bitch Ken, Art Thief Ken and — you guessed it — Fisting Ken. Not exactly the Ken doll your younger sister (or, hey, maybe you) played with as a child.
It’s been reported that the one-day pop-up was a “Match Bak Entertainment Production featuring Courtney Charles,” and one outlet said of the pop-up, which featured life-size Ken dolls, “The idea behind this exhibit is to bring awareness to pressing social issues such as homophobia, toxic masculinity, gay adoption and family rights, body positivity, and the #MeToo movement.”
The work inside “The Modern Ken” is reportedly inspired by the photography of Courtney Charles, though we aren’t sure if the photographer himself was involved in the Ken doll pop-up.
Did the exhibit shine a light on the pressing social issues it intended to (among which are homophobia, toxic masculinity, gay adoption, body positivity and #MeToo)? We suppose that’s up for debate.
We are, however, inspired ourselves by the work of Courtney Charles, who has shared many of his hilarious Ken doll creations on his Instagram account. (Some even feature well-known gay personalities, including comedian Matteo Lane and porn star-slash-designer Boomer Banks.) Check out some of our favorites below.