Bunny Rogers

Bunny Rogers discusses “Pectus Excavatum” at MMK Frankfurt

Bunny Rogers, Mount Olympia, 2019, rendering.

Bunny Rogers’s preferred email sign-off is a sentiment that rings true to her work: Sincerely. It is the slipperiness of connection, however, that allows her to calibrate so sensitively the inner illogic of our own narratives and memories in her practice, which spans sculpture, performance, coding, and writing. “Pectus Excavatum,” her solo exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, revisits familiar motifs from past work—animals, toys, mops, and ribbons—to excavate sites of personal and mass media mythology. The show is on view through April 28, 2019. 

I’VE MOURNED THE LOSS OF MY CHILDHOOD for a long time. Mourning doesn’t have to be finite, with a beginning and an end. I believe you can be in that place of mourning and go through the rituals that it entails for a lifetime. People often talk about childhood, or the end of childhood, as the point at which one loses one’s so-called innocence or purity. But I think we are born into a corrupted world and we absorb it immediately.

Questioning how much we think we know, especially within a broader consideration of animal intelligence, is one of the main focuses of the show at MMK Frankfurt. I define intelligence as sensitivity, and in those terms, animals such as squid, octopi, and whales are indicative of the extreme sensory capabilities that we’ve barely scraped the surface of. In the 1990s, there were these popular toys called Creepy Crawlers—you’d pour goop into molds and heat them up to form rubbery animals in different colors. Creepy Crawlers (Giant Squid) is a sculpture I made for the main room of this show—it’s a thirty-five-foot, glow-in-the-dark squid, with water puddles around it so it looks like it is dead or was freshly beached. On both sides the squid is surrounded by a fence, which is inspired by the one surrounding the Städelschule, where I was teaching in the six months before the show. Permeating the room is the smell of custom perfume I made with Régime des Fleurs. It scents the whole exhibition with this wet, musty, concrete type of smell, reminiscent of a graveyard.

Excerpts from an interview with Bunny Rogers.

Beyond the squid, there’s a giant replica of an iceberg from a traveling Titanic exhibition I think I saw in Texas around 1997 or ’98, right after the movie came out and the popularity around it was reinvigorated. The presentation consisted mostly of artifacts recovered from the shipwreck, but it also had an interactive piece, an ice wall that viewers were encouraged to touch and try to hold on to in order to see if they could have survive the sinking ship. It felt like such a painfully morbid element in this family-friendly traveling exhibition. I wanted to somehow re-create that for this show, so my Mount Olympia is very similar to the iceberg I saw as a child, just a lot larger.

There’s a reason I latch on to events like the sinking of the Titanic. I made a trilogy about the Columbine massacre [“Columbine Library” at Société, Berlin; “Columbine Cafeteria” at Greenspon Gallery, New York; and “Brig Und Ladder” at the Whitney Museum of American Art], a tragedy and social cultural landmark that happened when I was nine years old. I wonder if I made up a lot of the things I consider memories, but I have such vivid recollections from when I was seven to ten years old, living in Texas. Events from that period left a mark with an intensity that is difficult to imagine now. I revisit experiences from this time, I think, because it feels like a reflection of my life and development that I can trust.