Thursday, June 25, 2009

Megan & Ken – “Battered Bunnies”

Megan Gulick & Ken Bastard are Jersey City-based artists and illustrators. “Battered Bunny Holiday Snapshots” is their current collaboration project. The concept is to take famous and familiar images of historical horrors and tragedies and re-create them, through tracings and renderings, then replace the people in the pictures with Megan’s distinctive cartoon bunny illustrations. “People are too desensitized to these images that they’ve forgotten the horror. This is a cheeky way to get them more sensitized to the horror,” says Ken, who cited as inspiration, “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spegleman. By using the anthropomorphic imagery, Spegleman increased our awareness of the suffering of the Holocaust, the dehumanized system that enabled the genocide, and his own story of how it affected his family and his life. The cartoon animals as people Spegelmen created made an enormous—and until Nazi Germany, unimaginable—historical event immediate and personal and poignantly, all too human. There’s an appealing punk rock flippancy to the concept; and as with the best punk rock, maybe the flippancy is a way to grab your attention, not a way of hiding the truth. It is easy to see well-known images of true horror and forget about the actual suffering of the event because the images have become so familiar. Maybe some inventive re-imagining will remind us of suffering. When I spoke with her, Megan was adding bunnies to an old photograph of a solider shooting a man in the back of his head while he stood near an open mass grave. “I’m planning to do some work with Dorethea Lange (the famous Depression era photographer) images,” said Megan. They are completing several planned lapin depictions in the series and are currently looking for a gallery. Disturbing bunnies, historical tragedies. That’s so crazy it just might fascinate.


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