As a child, I was a Mary-Kate. Or at least that’s the Olsen twin I wanted to be. She was a little more spirited, the fun one. The Halle, not the Annie, if you will.
We all knew which Olsen twin we were because the Olsen twins were a hallmark of the ‘90s and early 2000s. We grew up watching them on TV from Full House to Two of A Kind to So Little Time. We watched them bring their passports to Paris and spend a holiday in the sun in the Bahamas and win London. They solved mysteries as nonchalantly as they flirted with cute guys and brushed off bitchy rivals. They even had all these book series about them, so you felt like you really knew these two sisters; like you were inside their heads.
Our BFFs, however, would eventually sink into a life of reclusiveness, becoming fashion designers who dress like that eccentric neighbor that you always suspected was a witch. Despite all that, the Olsen Twin magic remains for us ‘90s kids, which is why I was thrilled to hear about the art exhibit Olsen Twins Hiding From The Paparazzi.
Located in an abandoned dentist’s office in Williamsburg and helmed by Vivianna Olen and Matt Harkins, the exhibit is devoted to the Olsen twins and our fascination with tabloid celebrity. As someone who spent the better part of her Monday Googling old Beyoncé and Jay-Z divorce rumors in between stalking Rob Kardashian’s Instagram, it was my idea of art.
The hallways of the exhibit are lined with the paintings that were the inspiration for the whole event. Painted by Laura Collins, the pictures are based off of tabloid photos of Mary Kate and Ashley dodging the paparazzi. Sample captions include “An Olsen Twins Hide From the Paparazzi Behind Another Olsen Twin” and “An Olsen Twin Hides Behind A Passport.” The paintings are mesmerizing, documenting a flurry of blonde extensions and oversized sunglasses and hands over the face. “I love it, I want to buy one!” I excitedly declare. I see the $800 price tag. “….uh, SOMEDAY!” I finish. Some of us don’t have that sweet Full House syndication money, okay?
There are several rooms branching off from the hallway, all in homage to celebrity. One room looks like it belongs to a tired old police officer, confused and frustrated as to how these infernal twins keep escaping the grasp of the law. There are pictures of their movie posters on a bulletin board, with potential crimes suggested below it on Post-it notes. “Doctored passports? No record of entering the Bahamas?” they ask in an increasingly hysterical tone. Newspaper clippings highlighting their various wrongdoings over the years paper the walls, including one very good article about how Dave Coulier (beloved Uncle Joey) just wanted the twins to “CUT. IT. OUT.” during the filming of the show. The twins apparently would scream and run around instead of learning lines. A wise detective would realize the real crime there is that Uncle Joey was lying about loving kids.
There’s another room modeled after Mary-Kate’s wedding reception, which famously featured “bowls and bowls of cigarettes.” Appropriately, it is a table decorated with flowers and bowls and bowls of cigarettes. Mary-Kate might’ve been on to something, because it looked pretty damn classy.
The most ominous part of the exhibit is a ringing phone, accompanied with the note “When A Stranger Calls.” A photo of DJ Tanner smiles up at you, the type of smile that implies she’d devour your soul for a decent paycheck, no questions asked. A girl in the exhibit dared to pick up this horror movie phone. “Uh, hello? You want me to do Fuller House?! I’m kind of busy with like…oh, I don’t know, stuff,” she trails off, sounding confused and afraid. This is exactly how I imagine the Olsen twins reacted to the proposal to be on Fuller House.
There’s a selfie station and a Snapchat Confessional, all allowing you to tap into your inner reality diva. If that sounds a little overwhelming, head into the Sanctuary, a dimly lit room where you can observe a wall of art inspired by Kylie Jenner’s lip kit. Mediation candles surround the wall, marking the space as sacred. It is a place to sooth yourself, to reflect. Kylie Jenner is our Jesus, the room says. Follow her lipstick-stained path to the light.
The exhibit is a shrine to celebrity culture, to our obsession with tabloids and reality TV and ‘90s nostalgia. So go, go and worship beneath the averted gaze of our apostles, the Olsen twins. And don’t forget to Snapchat the whole thing. WWKD — It’s what Kylie would do.
The space is located at 563 Grand Street in Williamsburg and will run until May 1st.