Bunny Rogers creates quirky, sentimental environments where the openings in the backs of plastic chairs look like weepy eyes, and a wine-damp mop becomes a prostrate mourner. She doesn’t anthropomorphize objects so much as remind us that feeling is often experienced more intensely when it appears to be reflected in something outside the body. The mop and the chairs figure as details in “Columbine Cafeteria,” an exhibition that continues Rogers’s exploration of mediation and trauma. The title refers to the site of the first sensational high-school shooting. Rogers intersperses the furniture and other details of institutional dining, such as the metal rails that trays slide over, with elaborate flights of fancy: stained-glass windows, embossed velvet curtains, and an animated video of a girl alone in a snow-filled cafeteria, pounding out pop songs on a piano.
The figures that appear in the latter works are drawn with the cartoonish flattened volume of turn-of-the-century girl culture. They bring to mind Steve Madden ads or Bratz dolls, and Rogers’s titles refer to characters from “Clone High” (2002–03), an animated TV series about great leaders—Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, et al.—who, genetically resurrected, spend their teens together at a high school on a top-secret military facility. The show spoofs live-action high-school dramas by amplifying familiar anxieties in figures of world-historical importance. Columbine is tragedy, “Clone High” is comedy, one is news and the other fiction, yet both offer fodder for fantasizing about being a hero or a victim. Rogers weaves the two together in a cocoon of melancholic hope. —Brian Droitcour
Pictured: View of Bunny Rogers’s installation “Columbine Cafeteria” at Greenspon Gallery, New York.