Growing up, every boy had a set of green toy army men—their feet mired in a puddle of smooth plastic, their guns perpetually cocked. More sadistic boys might burn off the soldiers’ legs, arms, and faces with a powerful magnifying glass. Other soldiers would lose appendages to the family Labrador. The little green men molded by U.K.-based artist collective Dorothy, however, come prepackaged with their limbs blown off. One of them holds his rifle to his own throat.
Another subversive “toy” looks like a snow globe enclosing the four cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. Instead of enchanting white fluffs of snow floating through the globe when shaken, clumps of black ash rain down upon the industrial landscape. Ominously, Dorothy has dubbed these “No Globes.”
Last holiday season, Dorothy packaged up neat boxes of tree ornaments. But their glinting chrome bulbs weren’t smooth orbs of holiday joy—they were shaped like silver hand grenades. Merry Christmas, kids!
“When work like this incites controversy,” writes art magazine Hi-Fructose of Dorothy, “it’s usually for the way it compresses complex political or societal issues into overly cynical or simplistic satire. Dorothy clearly isn’t afraid to offend, but the group never loses its sense of mischievous wit either.”
“Dorothy wants to make us laugh,” Hi-Fructose concludes, “but when the message gets heavier, the group knows only too well that the joke won’t last.”