Getting to know Bunny Collective: Art and feminism with a cute subversion.
Ruhi Shah, on behalf of SANT, interviewed Bunny Collective, the girl gang from UK and Ireland, founded by Samantha Conlon. The collective comprises of all female artists, bringing their art into the virtual space, from illustration to photography, and all things in between. Artsy bunnies Samantha, Charlotte, Hannah, Emily, Louise and Camilla, chat bunny consciousness, the female identity online, future projects, and more.
Ruhi: What’s the story behind the name Bunny Collective?
Samantha Conlon: I just thought it was fun to use something cute and subvert it, girlishness, soft things, pinkness, are all core things it started from, which are still present, but I think it’s cool to see how everyone’s maturing and utilizing that subversion in their work in different ways.
Louise: IT’S CUTE!
Ruhi: So, what’s the essence of Bunny Collective’s consciousness? What is your art about?
Louise: Historically, women have been excluded from digital space. In the essay ‘A Game of One’s Own,’ feminist game collective LUDICA talked about women needing their own indigenous space within the digital playground. Bunny to me is focused on the creation of a radical heterogeneous feminized art space that is indigenous to the post-Internet girl.
Charlotte Cullen: Fierce and fragile.
Sam: Strength in softness, also Lou’s answer is 10/10.
Ruhi: What are the future projects we can expect to see from the group?
CC: A collective responsive to a disused dance studio, negotiating themes of gender, queerness and class, which inevitably intersect within such a potent public realm that operates as both private space and ostentatious display 😉
Sam: We wanted to do so many things! Something cool in Charlotte’s dance studio, a show about kitten conditioning and the illuminati; we’re always looking for people/places/spaces to work with!
Ruhi: Are there pros and cons to presenting art digitally? Any advice on sharing your work online?
Louise: Get your stuff out there and connect with people. Social media makes it extremely easy to build and interact with communities who are interested in the same stuff as you. The cons I guess are, maybe, over sharing. I am not sure though; this is something I keep going back and forth over in my head, and haven’t come to a resolution yet. Like on one hand, I have heard artists/writers who implore you NOT to share everything on social media, that some times, it’s better to hone your work and be more selective with what you present online. On the other hand, I was literally just talking at a conference, where one of the other speakers’ lecture was literally called “sharing your work embarrassingly early,” and was about all the benefits that come when you just throw yourself into something: how it builds you a portfolio quickly and gets you connections. I guess it’s personal; I have kind of stopped sharing online lately, because of anxiety. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but it feels kind of necessary to me right now.
CC: The Internet just exists now! Sure there are cons to putting everything online, but it also nurtures you. It can be empowering, but it’s a personal thing as well, just like IRL. It’s connected me to an incredible supportive community.
Sam: I mean 80% of the shows and projects I’ve been involved in are because of sharing my work online. I feel like it’s a choice, and lately, I’ve been slowing down my sharing too, it’s nice to keep some things to yourself, and share them in a selective way.
Ruhi: Women all over the world express themselves online. Do you think it’s a safe medium to do so? Instagram is littered with provocative selfies. Do you think it is to satisfy ‘the male gaze,’ or are women celebrating themselves?
Emily Wang: There’s no space that is safe for a woman to express herself (plus womanhood is multi-faceted, so it’s hard to make general statements about security) … but it doesn’t mean exposing yourself to that danger is a cop-out to the patriarchy. This question falls under the assumption that there is a binary, whereas both conditions can exist together, and they do contradict each other all the time.
Hannah Le Feuvre: I feel like the Internet and IRL are kind of equally unsafe and safe; there are always exceptions, and I think social media is a great tool to kind of boost setting up spaces and to bring people together. Sometimes, I think questions about the Internet could just be directed at the world.
Ruhi: What artists do you admire individually?
Emily: Hito Steyerl, Amalia Ulman, Lily van der Stokker, Anicka Yi, Cécile B. Evans, GCC, Fatima al Qadiri, and of course, my friends.
Camilla Frankl-Slater: Bela Kolarova, Mona Hatoum, Samara Scott and Mel Nguyen.
Hannah: I think about Barbara T Smith and Mindy Rose Schwartz in recent times.
CC: Rosemarie Trockel, Sophie Jung, Alice Channer and Hannah Regel like seriously, light me on fire.
Sam: Elinor Carruci, Hito Steyerl, Amalia Ulman, Molly Matalon, Anna Crews, and all the bunny girls, obviously.
Louise: I really admire a lot of the radical queer independent game and interactive media artists right now. People like Porpentine, Merrit Kopas, Anna Anthropy, and Llaura McGee. Pippin Barr’s design and mechanics are so super cool. Artists dealing with trauma and healing like Sarah Hill, Fannie Sosa, Hito Steyerl and all the bunny girls!
Ruhi: Feminism today, is a mainstream cause. Do you think that the image of feminists and the message of feminism are accurately presented in news or mainstream fashion?
CC: That whole white, middle class exclusionary feminism you see in the news just makes me weep. There are so many issues that I just can’t, to be honest.
Ruhi: In one word, describe the state of the world today.
Ruhi: Is Bunny Collective a growing community, or a closed group of artists? Who can be a Bunny?
Sam: Bunny is not closed at all; I think soon, we might open it worldwide! We want hard working babes, who like to churn out a lot of work and are active makers.
Ruhi: And finally, to whom does Bunny Collective wish to reach out?
CC: Aliens, cyborgs and the doomed!
Words: Ruhi Shah
Image 1 and 2: https://twitter.com/bunnycollective
Image 3, 4 and 5: http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/18666/1/introducing-bunny-collective