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Bunny RogersBunny Rogers

Mandy's Piano Solo in Columbine Cafeteria, 2016Mandy's Piano Solo in Columbine Cafeteria, 2016

Animated film, 13:16 min

Lavender Piano Bench (inside - Two pairs of Mandy Socks), 2016Lavender Piano Bench (inside - Two pairs of Mandy Socks), 2016

Wood covered with printed fabric, two knitted pairs of socks, artificial leather
55 x 69 x 36 cm

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Jan Windszus

Columbine Cafeteria recalls a collective trauma for American millennials: the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on 20 April 1999. In a highly coordinated attack, two students killed twelve fellow students, a teacher, and themselves. Their attack copied and quoted military commandos and first-person shooter games like Doom. To this day, the shooting spree remains the bloodiest of its kind at an American high school.
Columbine Cafeteria is the second part of a series by Bunny Rogers, which includes i.a. an installation, completed two years earlier, that engages with the attack’s other principle site and the location with the most victims – the library. In Columbine Library, Rogers already incorporated two cartoon characters with whom she identified temporarily, Joan of Arc from the TV series Clone High and Gaz from Invader Zim. The artist ties these characters filled with anger and self-loathing to the Columbine attackers to explore how female violence would appear if it were expressed rather than so often internalized.
Columbine Cafeteria presents the singer and actress Mandy Moore as she appears in the Clone High episode Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday Special (2003). In this episode, Joan of Arc is initially hostile towards Mandy Moore, revealing her deeply internalized misogyny. But on Snowflake Day, they drink alcohol together (a rare scene in an animated series), and demonstrate that female friendship is possible. In the video, Mandy Moore, alone and wearing a pale lilac dress typical of Rogers’ color palette, plays three songs by Elliott Smith on a grand piano. Next to Moore are a bottle of wine and a glass, which she fills and downs between the pieces. The setting is the empty, snow-covered cafeteria of Columbine High. Rogers projects the film in a room with a piano and a piano stool containing knitted socks, not visible to the visitor. Like in the video, the floor of the exhibition space is covered in snow, which falls slowly from a snow-making machine. In addition to the projection, the only light sources are flickering tea lights, which have been set into apples carved with grimacing faces. The apples recall both the legendary figure of Jack O’Lantern, whose last meal was an apple, and Halloween. According to Celtic legend, it is on this night that the souls of the dead return to their former homes.
In this installation, Rogers merges physical and fictitious space. She also melds the repetition of traumatic, repressed experiences that resist visualization and vocalization with her personal processing of events that occurred when she was nine years old. She combines these narrative elements with animated series and the music of Elliott Smith, which were formative for the artist during her own teenage years.

Anna-Catharina Gebbers