Intricately spinning together an online persona and personality construction that exists between a certain level of playful acting and premeditated performance, Bunny Rogers thrives on the loss of our generation’s recent past: the early days of the Internet, romping through the self-construction that allowed us to escape the depressing qualities of our IRL existences while dangerously destabilizing our grounding in reality. All of it probes the conditions of girlhood and adolescence, a fascination with female prepubescence that is far darker than the pastel saturated, tween-girl obsessions with boy bands commonly associated with this stage.
Her records compiled on the Internet show the varying layers of digital selves that our current generation has developed alongside the physical and emotional growth of our bodies. These layers are often abandoned, shed like last season’s clothing as we move from site to site. Roleplaying games such as Neopets, which some of us played at twelve, shift seamlessly to our current obsessions with Facebook or Twitter.
Rather than hoping these are erased as one might hope with our middle-school class photos, or at least relegated to the back pages of self-searching on Google, Rogers has meticulously sought to preserve this ephemeral trend-rotation and make us uncomfortably aware of the blind longing for connection we seek, and could be argued most particularly for teen girls to have been achieved in the growing networking of Tumblr blogs.
Her Tumblr 9years is a collection of screencaps of Rogers on the role-playing site, Second Life, documenting her stages of self-development and progression through this other world. Alongside this, she keeps a record of all her Facebook statuses posted since 2008 as tweets, regurgitating her life into a double-diary attempt to preserve her existence beyond the existence of these particular websites. Her digital archive of ribbons, Ribbon pages, created with the crude web design of the early millennium, reminds me of the habdashery collecting of young girls in Regency Britain, immortalized in Jane Austen’s novels.
Rogers’ website creates a catalogue of gifs and jpegs that denote a digital obsession with web-decoration and self-presentation. It acknowledges an audience but begs the question of who that would be. Who else is online ribbon-collecting, interested in what she has available for download? Sparkling silver ribbons lie in this online box, alongside a ribbon made of cookie and ribbons for animal awareness. She marks which ones were gifts describes herself in an about me with disarmingly accurate imitation of young self-description:
“Online I have been Emr006, emr007, emr008, Catgirl462, catnip4, Serineana, Biff Brannon, Muffy Summers, Bunny Winterwolf, bunrogers, and the list goes on. I have to be online for a very long time. Why, I can’t even believe I am twenty-one years old. I am a person who loves all animals, especially cats. I enjoy drawing, writing, sewing and baking.”
Also documented rigorously is her cunny poetry project, perhaps what she is currently best known for. Performing at live readings throughout the New York City area and beyond, these poems hit at the crux of a dark nostalgia, a memory of loss, ignoring our cultural revisionism for the purity of self as it develops. The language echoes the work of her ribbon site, naïve but painfully aware of an emotional something that is missing – something lost that cannot be regained. It’s not necessarily a loss of innocence, but perhaps a loss of a self at a certain time, irrevocably changed by events that have come after: lovers, death, the pressures of society to change and conform to its regulations.
This is illustrated succinctly in her Sister Jackets, letterman jackets embroidered on the back. Modeled by herself and her “high-school sweetheart” in her portfolio documentation, the two jackets read “Long Days Journey Into Night” by Eugene O’Neill and “Putting Away Childish Things” by Marcus J. Borg, respectively. This outlook resonates with our generational unease as we make our way out into an adulthood almost universally agreed upon to be marked with uncertainty.
Explore Bunny Rogers’ portfolio and online archives on her site, meryn.ru.
By Lauren Allegrezza, Blog Editor
All Images © Bunny Rogers