August 20, 2013 — September 19, 2013
30 Going On 13
OK, you're not gonna believe this but SUMMER CAN LAST FOREVER.
Nothing else will last.
Except the songs that Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato sing.
Battling very public personal issues on Twitter.
Even in federal women's prison they talk about Taylor Swift.
Apparently here in New York we all get a second chance.
Joey & Dawson to Joey & Pacey to Joey & Dawson to Joey & Pacey.
Moving on to the next thing. Sketchy relationships. Chuck. Blair.
Everyone wants to be your bad girl. From Laguna Beach to The Hills to The City. Sex and the City.
Nobody wants a Charlotte. But I'm a good girl and I know it. Drake.
Whenever you're ready Feel the rain on your skin.
No one else can feel it 4 u Nobody loves no one.
Growing up. I'm wasted.
Let the future pass but don't let go of 13, Thirty.
Created by J.J. Abrams, Claire Danes, Alex, Archie, Ashley, Caitlin, Craig, Darcy, Emma, Holly J., Jay, Jenna, Joey, Manny, Mia, Paige, Peter, Sean, Spinner, Upper East Side, New York City, AIDS, nyu, abortion, abuse, cheating, sex, death, suicide, dating, depression, bullying, gay rights, homophobia, racism, environment, eating disorders, teenage alcoholism, homelessness, adultery, school violence, censorship, and drug use.
Life, as a teen, became a television drama in the 90s. For everyone, coming of age in the 90s, we didn't know life without Dawson's Creek or Buffy. Just as the internet was mostly a fact of our adolescence. However, the way in which TV taught us to feel and represent ourselves online became a new way for women to be criticized; the fusion of the Internet and TV created the “fame-whore.”
Amanda Bynes has created a new model for mainstream media story-telling; her life is all documentation--as if her crazed fan alter ago Penelope Taynt is behind the camera--all you need to be famous is an iPhone and a melt-down.
The melt-down--being over-come by feeling (the feeling that one is always being watched, that one is invisible, that one needs to be seen, that no one sees who you really are)--this is what we learned from the girls of 90s TV. We learned how to feel it through the soundtrack.
"But you make we wanna act like a girl / Paint my nails and wear high-heels."
Every young girl knows life is about being seen and being heard, dressing up so as to be seen and heard. She sees herself as her favorite teen idol. She speaks in the voice of her favorite singer, following her on Twitter. She knows what it's like to be famous. Being famous is being heard and seen when your heart is broken.
In Micaela Durand's, 30 Going on 13, she reverses the projection process of teen fandom. On YouTube, the teenage girl posts a video, singing her favorite Taylor Swift song, which she's heard in an episode of Gossip Girl. In Micaela's project, Blair Waldorf, a character from Gossip Girl, lip-synchs a fan-version of Taylor Swift through Morpho, an app through which you turn yourself into an avatar and put other peoples' words in your mouth.
The medium Micaela uses is a computer-generated form of drag. Her piece opens an uncanny valley between the drag of the 25-year-old actress acting out feelings of a 15-year-old girl, which is, in fact, the model for how most 15-year-old girls learn to express themselves. She turns the performance of girl feelings into a process of lip-synching.
We learn how to feel by watching a TV show, listening to pop songs. Love becomes a strange process of lip-synching lines one has taken to heart: seeing oneself as Buffy, looking longingly out the window. Being a girl involves seeing oneself as one goes through life--staging life as a public spectacle--whether anyone is watching or not. Just pretend it's a video game; pretend you're on TV.
The strange unraveling that happens in Micaela's project mirrors the way in which celebrities of teen TV and pop radio (increasingly indistinguishable) have begun to play their characters in their real lives and to play themselves when they appear in films. In this “playing,”we can sense the video-game quality of living under the sight and control of others--life as "cos-play."
This is, perhaps, why Amanda Bynes's public persona is the uncanniest of all celebrity avatars. It is not only as if she is being photographed by her super-fan Penelope Taynt but as if she controls her every move.
It isn't like the hunger games--trying to survive fame and attention--but more like the loneliness of Angela Chase, her feeling of invisibility, her need to know herself through the recognition of others. 90s TV has always been a live stream of feelings, of subjectivity; life as the video game of My So Called Life. There's a time-limit on this round. We don't want to wait for our lives to be over.
This is, above all, the fear of being a teenage girl--that life stops after 30.
- Text by Jordan Lord.
Micaela Durand is an artist living and working in New York.