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WILD Nights: Inside A Tween Girl Art Dream

Artist and writer Ella Riley-Adams gives a look into a WILD night at the The F#cking Limited 2, an art installation centered around tween girl culture created by Matt Starr:

#textmebb hotspot!

In preparation for The F#cking Limited 2, an art event centered around tween girl culture, we collaged from Seventeen Magazine and J-14, like the old days. We pasted glow in the dark stars and Lisa Frank tigers on the walls. But as a group of 20-somethings sitting on pink faux fur carpet with our scissors, the conversation eventually turned to Craigslist ads and how much we might be able to sell our eggs for. “I heard you can get $8,000,” a girl said, cutting out a photo of Harry Styles. “Yeah but you have to see the doctor all the time and then take crazy hormone shots,” another girl added. “I did a lot of research.” Downstairs, another member of the art gang shaped the cardboard lips of a seven-foot tall Justin Bieber head. As I took part in the installation of the Limited F#cking 2, I already had a sense of the surreal space this art gang would open on Saturday night.

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In one month, new media artist Matt Starr and his art gang : ) (read “upsidedown smiley face”) came up with and constructed the event in an unoccupied Curry Hill townhouse. Following the tradition of early 60s performance artist Allan Kaprow, they called the event a “Happening,” an art activity that invites audience participation. Matt stresses that its meaning isn’t meant to be evident. “When having sex, while thrusting one way or the other, whichever position you’re in— you’re not asking “why am I here?”, “why am I inside you/why are you inside me?”, “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ALL THIS?”, instead you’re feeling, living, experiencing. It’s the same with the space I created– the understanding and meaning will come when it cums.”

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Logistically, the Limited F#cking 2 was a one-night-only immersive experience for which guests had to take off their shoes and bend down to tween-height in order to get through the bead curtains for the stairs. They sipped self-serve jungle juice out of Slurpee cups until the punch bowl turned to straight gin–and then they flavored it with Fun Dip.
Lest 90s kids get overexcited about fuzzy shirts and glitter accessories, Starr clarified: “It wasn’t about recreating the store Limited Too, but more recreating that feeling and everything it represented, the cause and effect of putting these words on girls’ butts, distributing these sparkly things. It’s all about attention. Anything that’s shiny draws eyes.”

#textmebb Bieber Bible

Much of the Limited F#cking 2 was covered in mylar, including a fluttering bush below two oversized breasts, nipples erect. Across the room, a translucent zorb refracted neon projections. Guests climbed inside the sphere for a sleepover-style “cone of silence,” though sadly I never saw a game of truth or dare.

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Some people flipped through the magazines we’d shredded, cuddled on the inflatable furniture, or painted nails. Others sucked on ring pops or rolled around on the soft carpet. Everyone posed with the installations around the room, hashtagging their Instagrams #textmebb as a sparkly pink poster directed. A six-foot iPhone-shaped selfie station provided further photo ops. “We wanted this object to be larger than life, larger than us. We wanted to make a fitting idol for something we already idolize,” Starr explained.
Guests were mostly post-college art boys and girls who came with memories of their mall days, back when clothing and room decoration were the only options for superficial self-definition. The night inspired several retellings of individual preteen histories. “I used to have those,” a lipsticked girl said, gesturing to the pink and purple inflatable furniture. “And my parents built me a bed loft.”

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Today’s tweens have more platforms on which to define their sense of self, which the Limited F#cking 2 reflected. Any 12-year-old with a smartphone will describe her strategies to gain more Instagram followers or talk about her goal to become “Tumblr famous.” But as self-obsessed or tech savvy as she is, she’s still attending sleepovers and desperately trying to come of age. At the Limited F#cking 2, we got to remember what we used to love and how it defined us. When the clock struck midnight, we left the candied chaos, relieved to revisit that time of life for one night only, as art.

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text by: Ella Riley-Adams










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