Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen are crowd-funding for a pop culture exhibition dedicated to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. We spoke to them to find out why they love the Olsens so much.
The early noughties are a time that most of us would prefer to forget – a world pre-social media, pre-TMZ, where gladiator belts slung over denim skirts were all the rage and the concept of ironic selfies had blissfully yet to emerge. And the Olsen twins – the bug eyed, takeaway-coffee-cup wielding icons of early noughties style – are arguably the most memorable avatars of this generation. So it’s unsurprising, in a way, that someone somewhere feels they’re worthy of a cultural museum of their own.
Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen, a pair of Brooklyn-based comedians (they want you to know they’re not a couple, FYI), are crowd-funding on Kickstarter to create a pop culture ‘museum’ dedicated entirely to the Olsen twins. They have form in this area, having previously opened a museum dedicated to American figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding back in 2015 (although this time, the museum was hosted in a Brooklyn apartment). Their latest exhibit was inspired by Mary Kate’s wedding to Oliver Sarkozy, following the newspaper reports that the wedding featured "bowls and bowls filled with cigarettes.” Harkins and Olen go on to explain that “the Olsen Twins are true celebrities. Highly unrelatable. They have bowls (and bowls) of cigarettes at their weddings. Very chic.”
The exhibit – which, if all goes to plan, will open in April for two weeks – will feature artwork from Laura Collins. Collins is a Chicago based artist whose series of paintings entitled "The Olsen Twins Hiding From The Paparazzi” explores how “using a patented system of approximately 700 lbs of beautiful clothes, strategically high collars, face sized bags, and tiny house sized sunglasses, the Olsen's are able to hide themselves from unwanted photographers.”
Joking aside, Harkins and Olen are actually serious about opening their Olsen twin exhibit up to Olsen mega-fans everywhere, and they’re currently a quarter of the way towards reaching their $9,500 funding target. Dazed caught up with them to find out just why they love the Olsen twins so much.
Hi, thanks for talking to us. So why do you love the Olsen twins so much?
Matt Harkins/Viviana Olen: We got the idea after we met one of the artists who had submitted a piece for the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan museum. Her name is Laura Collins and she did the series of the Olsens hiding from the paparazzi. We saw it on Instagram and it felt like the perfect next exhibit. So much of the first exhibit explored how the media shaped the Tonya and Nancy story, and how each reacted to the sudden attention the world was giving them. A series of paintings showing the Olsens hiding from that attention sounded like an interesting topic. It seemed like it would be very creepy to put all of the paintings up together in one space, so everywhere you turn they're hiding their face from you. When we decided it would be a shorter term exhibit we figured we would rent a bigger space for it, to maximize the amount of people who could come and visit.
So why do you think the Olsen twins are so chic?
Matt Harkins/Viviana Olen: The Olsen's are rarely seen out and when they are, it's at a party like the Met Gala and they look they're attending a 19th Century funeral. At Mary-Kate's wedding, guests were forced to turn in their phones which we would hate because we love our phones, but the wedding is now iconic since any information about it will be spread solely by word of mouth. Also, nothing sounds chic-er than a bowl of cigarettes.
What do you think the Olsen twins can teach us about modern day celebrity and fame?
Viviana Olen: The Olsen twins also grew up in front of the camera. As a kid I was a huge fan and went to see them at an appearance at a theme park in Las Vegas. You waited in line for 3 hours and passed by them and they just sat there, tired and not really wanting to make eye contact. It was jarring. So it makes sense why they'd want to be so private. Today, celebrities give so much of themselves away and only a handful of them have the privilege of being able to stay private and guarded but still successful. So the mystery is rare and very exciting when it's achieved. If celebrities can learn anything from the Olsen twins it's that if you want to be iconic you have to have some secrets.
Is this a joke?
Matt Harkins/Viviana Olen: People instantly assume it’s a joke, but it’s not. We've spent the last year running tours in our hallway museum and have taken what we promised to do seriously. But we are comedians so we try to make things as fun as we can. Our main initiative with this was to show Laura Collins' art, and our role as curators is to present it in the most inviting and interesting way possible. To us that involves building the Kylie Jenner Selfie Station where people will be able to take selfies hiding behind oversized purses, blackberries, and Starbucks cups, and having bowls and bowls of Cigarettes. We just want to make it an experience that we would like to go to, and hopefully other people will want to as well.
Do you think the Olsen twins are really cultural icons? Like, really?
Matt Harkins/Viviana Olen: They've built a fashion empire, they've become really amazing business women and when they are in the press it's because they were smoking in the bathroom at the Met Gala or something. I mean, how cool is that?
If you’d like to support their Kickstarter, you can check it out here.