OFS reviewer and volunteer usher Lucy saw Numbers (For Girls) in June 2021.

Numbers (For Girls) is an art installation which ran for 15 minute segments throughout the Offbeat festival. I booked my slot for Saturday afternoon; slightly apprehensive and unsure what to expect, but soon bedazzled. The Drama Studio had become somewhere else.

Instantly, I was hit by an olfactory punch of perfume. Thick and cloying, over-powering: the choking stench of girl. A lady, in a style part nature documentary and part air hostess, welcomed me to the lair. I would be left alone, ‘to snoop’, for fifteen minutes.

At first glance, I was in an overwhelmingly feminine bedroom. A kind of Barbie hyperbole, all cute and kitsch, embracing the adorable and exaggerating the assumed. There was a lot to see and most of it was pink. But when you looked closer, each item had a story to tell.

Numbers (For Girls) takes a look into the construct of ‘girl’. An innocuous, bright pink dressing table holds underwear and also facts about FGM (female genital mutilation). A teddy bear tea party teaches us about bulimia. A single bed conveys how few people can correctly label a vagina. The over-decorated exterior conceals much darker truths.

As we walk around the space, we soon become aware of a desktop. ‘Girl’ is working from home. A male co-worker is harrassing her. The way in which this occurs is subtle and sinister. In the end, ‘Girl’ leaves the conversation as “no one would do anything about it, anyway”.

Dark, disturbing and drowning in info; a microcosm in the studio; Numbers (For Girls) depicts women as seen through the male gaze. It also tells us what this means, quantatively. It is intensely interesting and thought-provoking. However, I think the title may have put some people off. Also, perhaps there could have been more interaction. But all in all, it was fantastic.

girly girl in a boy’s world. FACTS & STATS. think pink. BEHIND THE MAKE-UP.