Folies Barbie

Phone +43 650/250 260 7
Reinfried Marass ▪ Ennser Strasse 37a ▪ 4407 Steyr ▪ Austria


The adventures of three broke Barbie dolls who now have to serve as showgirls in the 'Folies Barbie' revue theater. This cartoon-strip-commentary explains why 'Without Barbies photographs would be mere images'. They represent an impressive collective intelligence. A product of music, painting and poetry, literature, movies, fashion, fantastical imagination, and photography - but please do not refer to that as art. It is a creation of a group who are thieves stealing inspiration from everywhere. Working together and so sharpening each other through the interaction. It is the best form of inspiration and abrasion. It hurts. Often. Which is why there is laughter, often. A motley crew who invite you to join the madness. A delicious satire and 'Cirque Calder' of 'photographic art installation'.

The three broke Barbies are 'Mistresses of insanity' sustained on the constant sipping of Courvoisier, adding to their craziness and making them as nutty as a fruitcake. A true Barbie doll's perspective brings storytelling photography alive. A Barbie is a Barbie is a Barbie - they are a reflection of what it is to be female. The good, the bad and the ugly. A doll's life journey, mostly with hidden metaphors, seen through the lens of puppeteer and photographer Reinfried Marass.

'Barbies are the makeup for photography' because, by nature, female characters are the most celebrated storytellers around. By letting them tell their story, Folies Barbie reflects the woman's honest and raw perspective. It is this grace that transcends and creates animation even in inanimate objects. In Folies Barbie's photographic work, analogies are used to add some fun and friction in a way that only dolls know how to do.

Introductions are always such tedious requirements, but here you are, with your questions and expectations and being Barbies, we like to please. We play with something to say, which is most often in conflict with our puppeteer - the one convinced that he is, in fact, the master and commander of our little show. The result is a madhouse of pure female delight. We love your opinion, so go ahead, but know that madness is contagious - And.Don't.Ever.Call.Us.Babes.


The blonde Master Barbie is also the revue's Master Bitch and princess. Batch no. 8176. A gold digger who was married rich once but got divorced and left broke by her latest, third husband. She is addicted to fashion with an overdose of self-esteem, but argues "is there such a thing?". Me, myself and I. She sees herself as the world's most beautiful and desirable Barbie doll that deserves the spotlight all day long. Her cheeky Mae West temper comes close to the German-based 'Lilli', a cartoon character later turned toy, innovated by the German 'Bild' newspaper reflecting the new female post-war self-esteem. 'Bild Lilli' is the blueprint for the Mattel Barbie doll and later in 1964 the company obtained the rights. Veruschka's name is derived from the Countess Vera von Lehndorff, the leggy, tall, famous model icon from the 60's made well known to the public for her act in Michelangelo Antonioni's movie Blow Up starring actor David Hemmings as photographer David Bailey. Veruschka is the Barbie staff's big teaser and the Revue's self-proclaimed 'Stage Coach'. Technically, with her bright skin and blonde hair, she is responsible for the highlights in a Barbie photograph.


'The first' when she was found discarded and drugged in the seats of an abandoned Cadillac DeVille. The gang's red hair with French roots and the revue's eponym. Folies Barbie is named after the famous Parisian Folies Bergère Revue theater where the French term 'Folies' means 'crazy'. She's a bit of a clumsy Barbie doll but usually a kind soul. Best friend - and also the only one - to Veruschka and of course her favorite punching ball. A withdrawn and reflective character. A sensitive thinker that makes her a rarity. A funny person who never smiles. Usually the venue's peacemaker. Technically, with her darker, tanned skin and red hair, she is responsible for a photograph's mid-tones.


The gang's 'Choco Barbie'. An original Afro-African Barbie doll who only speaks Swahili so comes across as shy. A poor, orphaned Barbie with a ground-out batch number that was traded in for a sack of beans by the puppeteer at a slavery doll market down in Joseph Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness'. Master-Slave to Stage Coach Veruschka. Named after a movie starring uber-beauty Beverly Johnson who was the first face of color to feature on an international fashion magazine cover. Technically, with her raven-black hair and chocolate skin, she is responsible for a photograph's dark tones.

TIZIRI (Guest Star)

An original Berber Barbie, in a way a Berberella. She comes from down a valley of the Hoggar mountains. She can tame wild camels and been raised in a matriarchy system where her grandmother still was the village's witch and shaman. Her hair never was cut since the day of her birth. In her language TIZIRI stands for 'moonlight'. She swallows men like candies and is chatting away all day long in some weird Berber slang mixed up with some French terms. She was gifted to our Master & Commander for his birthday and from now on will be a regular guest star to the Folies Barbie.

Photographer, the revue's engineering founder, and puppeteer. The Barbies' master & commander. Bwana to Ashanti. Responsible for all & everything. The caretaker who shares a love-hate relationship with the showgirls and 'queens of unboxing' and 'general disarray' who are spending all his money on fancy stuff and gadgets. Ever get the feeling that you could just kill someone? It was that very sentiment shared by the photographer that resulted in the first introduction to a Barbie discarded in an abandoned Cadillac DeVille. Besides, with a choice of picturing a babe or Barbie, the selection seemed obvious. Barbies follow instruction. They are compliant for as long as necessary, and they don't tend to voice an opinion. So they got the jobs. The problem soon to be discovered was that Barbies take exception to trash and life got complicated. After much negotiation, they reached a comfortable symbiosis. Barbies could stay, working at the Revue theater at night to pay their way.

Folies Barbie Backstage

The Revue's goal is to set a new industrial standard for tabletop photography, a common term for photographing small items in professional product photography. Achieved by using the latest lighting technology and most professional state of the art equipment. Engineered and built to perfection, down to every single bolt. A result of months of ongoing testing, adapting, experimenting. With steadily updates, versions, and technology improvements. Many of the featured Barbie shots average the effort of several working days per photo, less the time effort of the pre-running creative mindset.

Barbies Fashionistas Inc.

In tabletop photography, Barbie dolls are some of the most complicated subjects to picture. A Barbie doll's 3-D shaped plastic body is prone to reflections and therefore, a challenge in any tabletop or product-photography. They have to be photographed and lighted as real female models. Technically all three dolls work as a dynamic reference set, ranging from bright blonde hair and skin to dark black colors and shadows. To get the depth-of-field necessary for more complicated shots over a larger area is another goal to master. Especially to keep it natural and to avoid digitally achieved, and therefore unnatural focus stacking technologies. In general, the goal is to keep it as natural and analog as possible and to avoid photoshop tricks as most possible although some editing is necessary anyway. The colored dresses are a proof for correct color rendering although none of the shots reflects the actual colors. The photographer mixes his colors as in his other work.