The Form Foundation, along with Société and Dublin City Council, are bringing the NEOPETS exhibition, by New York artist Bunny Rogers, to the streets of Dublin for eight weeks only. This special exhibition is part of a new, collaborative effort, led by The Form Foundation, to bring a selection of the most talked-about pieces of contemporary art to Ireland – introducing internationally recognised painting, sculpture and installation art to local audiences and making it accessible to everyone.
The Bunny Rogers NEOPETS exhibition takes place on Dublin’s Kildare Street, Dublin 2 for 4 weeks only ( 5th of October – 6th of November).
About Bunny Rogers
The artist, Bunny Rogers takes inspiration from online gaming and digital identities from her youth, to create brilliant, bold sculptures for this show-stopping NEOPETS exhibition. Rogers’ towering bronze sculptures bear resemblance to ornate European gargoyles, but are brilliantly modernised in Rogers’ whimsical and bold artistic style.
Speaking about the installation, Caroline Conroy, The Lord Mayor of Dublin; said:
“These playful NEOPETS sculptures by Bunny Rogers are not to be missed. I’m delighted to see them take up residence in Dublin as a playful animation. It is sure to be a great addition to our city’s conversation-starting public art scene.”
A major reference for Rogers is the world of online gaming and the malleable identities endemic to role-playing and fantasy communities. This interest was not born out of purely conceptual or aesthetic considerations, but instead developed seamlessly from Rogers’ own fascination and involvement with these platforms in her youth.
Her first forays into art can be traced to her experiments on the website Neopets.com: an immersive online universe popular in the early 2000s in which children created and tended to virtual pets. For Rogers, spending time on the internet as a child was equated with a freedom from isolation and her work thereby evinces an enchantment with online expressions of community. “My Neopets were real to me,” Rogers explains, “I wished that I could visit Neopia and didn’t understand why I couldn’t.”
The all-consuming structure of neopets.com—with its branded games that allowed players to win neopoints, the virtual currency needed to navigate the land of Neopia and provide for their NeoPets—fascinated Rogers with its conflation of consumption, fantasy, and care. Rogers describes the process of logging into Neopets after school as “coming alive again.”
The connection she felt with the game and its players alleviated the feelings of isolation and loneliness experienced away from the keyboard. “The participation in an online world made me aware of a bigger community,” Rogers says, “and (it) gave me hope that what I was doing wouldn’t always go unnoticed.”
Rogers has made a number of sculptural works inspired by the Neopets, which have become one of the most emblematic references in her artistic practice. Although previous works in this series were more modestly scaled, Rogers has recently begun to conceive of these works on a grand scale for public space. She created a towering Neopet sculpture for the 2021 edition of Art Basel Parcours.
Enlarged to over three meters, these virtual creatures who left such an indelible mark on Rogers’ consciousness now assume an outsized physical form to meet us away from the keyboard. Three of these Neopets (Techno Statue, Shoyru Statue and Chia Statue) will be on display as part of this exhibition. Rogers’ Neopets all have different moods and characteristics. Her conceptual engagement with bridging private, inner-worlds with moments of collectivity.
By situating one of Rogers’ Neopet sculptures in the public, common space visitors tap into an intimate space of memory, fantasy, and identity. The Neopets conceptually emphasise community, collaboration, cooperation, and the power of inventiveness and innovation. Such qualities not only drive successful organisations and teams, but also are the foundations of living together as a community and making positive change in the world.