The world of online pop culture fandom now has an interactive art gallery to call home in Brooklyn — and it’s opening with a special treat for Sex and the City fans.
THNK 1994 began when curators Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins channeled their obsession with figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan into an art show in their apartment. The pair, who create exhibits based on pivotal moments in pop culture, then moved their next show, The Olsen Twins Hiding from the Paparazzi, to a former doctor’s office in Williamsburg. Now, they finally have their own gallery space at 1436 Atlantic Ave. in Crown Heights opening May 5.
“We just do our best to make a space that’s pure fandom and make-believe,” says Harkins — and, as it often happens, Olen jumps in with a punchline: “It’s Disneyland, only very niche.”
Their first exhibit in the new space — obsessions will change seasonally — is Yama Kippi Yay Bo, an exploration of actress Kim Cattrall inspired by a YouTube clip of her scatting while her then-boyfriend sets the beat with an upright bass.
“It’s her confidence which is so extraordinary,” says Olen. “We grew up on Sex and the City, and she was just so bold, she’s such a star. Even her early roles, anything she did it became iconic because she brought that confidence in, and that’s what’s so cool about the video, too.”
While the Olsen twins exhibit was a subversive examination of their personal life meant to unsettle you about being interested in it, Yama Kippi Yay Bo will be more of a shrine.
Modeled after what they imagine Cattrall’s “non-primary pied a terre” would look like, THNK 1994 will “chase that glamour” with a photo op-ready fireplace tiled with images of Samantha’s exes from “Sex and the City,” hand-painted Tarot cards to tell your future using deep cuts from Cattrall’s career; occasional performances of Cattrall monologues; and, of course, tons of art submitted by friends, fans and fellow Cattrall lovers.
The gallery is free to visit; special ticketed events will include an opening gala with a dress code of khakis and denim (a la the ensemble she wears in the Yama Kippi Yay Bo video), a discussion about Britney Spears (including a panelist who’s worked with her — “it’s so much more fun to talk about her in a way that celebrates her,” says Olen); and mini on-the-go facials from an “aesthetician to the stars” they met through Instagram, called that “because he once gave a facial to somebody on Bravo, and we respect that.”
They plan to rotate exhibits seasonally. Summer will bring a collaboration with scathing celebrity blogger Pop Culture Died in 2009 “with a very curatorial eye about the early aughts.” In the fall, their Olsen twins collaborator Laura Collins will get her own show with a new painting series, Real Housewives Pointing at You.
Though Olen and Harkins are not full-time in the gallery business yet — they’re “pizza counter girls by night” at Sizzle Pie — that’s the goal. Their first two exhibits were funded through Kickstarter, but this time they’re relying on merchandise, events and memberships to fund their dream of having a permanent space to keep exploring pop culture.
“We jumped full feet in,” says Olen. “These are so fun to do and so rewarding because we get to meet new artists and new people. It’s become a community.”