"If I were a little girl, I would be on Justin Bieber's D-I-C-K. Metaphorically, that is." Matt Starr, an artist, was explaining the concept behind the five foot Justin Bieber shrine that he created for the Limited F#cking Too, an event last weekend in New York. Event isn't really the right word. It was, in the press release's words, a "happening, following the tradition of Allan Kaprow’s Happenings in the early 1960s." But what, like, actually happened?
a Belieber might ask. Pink faux-fur carpet, Slurpee cocktails, inflatable furniture, Lisa Frank ceiling projections, a Barbie with a unicorn head, and a human-sized tampon whose string was threaded with lollipops, to begin.
That was only the start. The best part of the party––er, happening––was the "8.5 foot plastic inflatable dual-layer Zorb
Ball" custom-made for the event that attendees could crawl inside. This––and the infinite number of other entertaining objects in the first floor apartment of an empty building in Murray Hill––were meant to simulate the experience of being in the 90s mall store Limited Too, or at least in the bedroom of the tween who shopped there.
"I think the aesthetics of [Limited Too] are beautiful," said Matt, 25, who moved to New York three months ago from Indiana and formed the "art gang" that executed the project. The "gang"––whose only name is the symbol :)––consists of artists and writers including Liberty Leben, Daniel May-Applegate, Zoe Rosenberg, Lauren Schwartz, Max Bartick, Grayson Earle, Taylor Bryant, and Ella Riley-Adams. (Matt met many of these collaborators on Tinder, the dating app he also incorporates into artWORK
Now seems like the right time for a brief history of the Limited Too, a chain which, as a 25-year-old female who now works in fashion, you can bet your Hello Kitty lipgloss I shopped at. In middle school, the Limited Too was the mecca for things my friends loved and my parents hated: scented nail polish, Cher Horowitz-esque feather pens, bras that fit if you had no breasts.
In 2009, the last Limited Too stores closed or rebranded as Justice, the current tween chain of choice. So isn't the Limited F#cking Too––with its giant iPhone sculpture and Justin Bieber shrine––kind of anachronistic? In a certain light, the event looked less like a recontexualization of 90s girlhood than a jumble of everything that's currently cool to fetishize from then and now (raves, Internet culture, Britney).
Matt acknowledges as much, though he doesn't encourage viewers to analyze the event's components individually. "Certain pieces of what we did are trendy. But ultimately, it's about an entire experience." He wrote later in an email: "When having sex, you're not asking 'WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ALL THIS?' Instead you're feeling, living, experiencing." Such a noncritical, enthusiastic attitude
towards mass culture is trendy, too. But it's not often so sincere, in a way that's eerily on brand for anything Limited Too.
Photos courtesy of :) gang