We Are All Traitors

May 8 – 29, 2016

Artists: Bunny Rogers and Cosima von Bonin

We express ourselves with the hope of perfect communication. I think this is rare and maybe impossible. We make the compromise that externalization is inherently a betrayal of the self, because connecting to our environment is most important. The sensation of security is most important. This is a nice aspect of socialization, that we all enter the ring as traitors.

–Bunny Rogers, “We Are All Traitors: Interview with Harry Burke” Mousse 44 (June 2014)

We Are All Traitors presents the work of American artist Bunny Rogers and German artist Cosima von Bonin, exploring questions of artistic subjectivity and persona. For both, the artistic subject is something that is necessarily articulated through a social field or a network of relations constituted by artists, dealers, collectors and fans, communities of friendship, and shared mass and subcultural experiences.

In their work, the selves presented are assembled from disparate parts, constructed via dense networks of social and cultural references, autobiography, and self-mythologization. These complex assemblages are characterized by a persistent tension: seemingly structured according to their own internal logics, they are nonetheless fundamentally malleable and dispersed, constantly absorbing new material from outside of themselves.

In von Bonin’s work, the self functions as a kind of node, constantly deferred through collaboration and other obfuscations of artistic agency. Rogers’ work, on the other hand, presents the artistic subject as an avatar, painstakingly assembled and, as such, mutable and immaterial at its core.

The exhibition thus seeks to draw a line of continuity between two distinct artistic tendencies: contemporary practices that are explicitly imbricated in a logic of social media networks, necessitating a highly stylized performance of the self, and earlier theories and practices emerging in the 1990s around what is colloquially knows as the ‘Cologne school’ and which consider the role of the artistic subject in networked capitalism. For both Rogers and von Bonin, the artistic subject is something that must be constructed rather than simply asserted, a process that is neither heroic nor innocent.

Curated by Tim Gentles

 

 

 

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