Who’s Afraid of the Bunnyman? Olly Olly’s Manifesto Reviewed

By Jay Hendrick on June 8, 2016

The story goes that in 1970, at a bridge in Fairfax, a couple was assaulted by a figure dressed in a bunny suit. The bunny-suited assailant flung a hatchet, breaking their car window. The hatchet wielding, fuzzy flayer was dubbed the Bunnyman. Soon Bunnyman paranoia struck the local residents of normally quiet suburbia. New sightings were reported. New stories were spread. Suburban silence was interrupted. Fairfax’s Bunnyman was armed and dangerous. From the tale of this silly slasher was born The Bunnyman Bridge Collective.

A manifesto is evocative of certain language—calamitous and extreme, with course tongues and sharp-toothed declarations. Claims are made. Pens flourish and poke through paper, gouging out point after point.

Yet the manifesto is also politically evocative—the sound of a rifle butt, the pressure of a boot heel, a shovel moving earth, and roaring voices. A manifesto destabilizes, crystallizes, abrades, insults, critiques, bleeds, silences, and matures.

In art, the manifesto has functioned in much the same way—to raise ire, to declare, to disrupt, and make plain the values of a group of artists. Such a disruption could be observed by the evocation of the hurled hatchet of a bunny suited urban legend.

Taking the Bunnyman as their mascot of urban disruption, The Bunnyman Bridge Collective came together and created a show called, Manifesto at Olly Olly in Fairfax, VA. The Bunnyman Bridge Collective is five different artists manifesting their own residential silencing, hatchet wielding, visual manifestos.

Jessica Kallista’s installation was varied with digital prints, texts, chocolates, and strawberry flavored condoms. The whole of the thing screamed red and black, ubiquitous, oppressive colors all throughout. Even the artist’s nails were red and black. Her digital print, titled Medusa was a self-portrait, repeating and riffing Warhol’s Marilyn, self-critically addressing her loss of self or beauty. Medusa offers quotation after quotation, lipstick application after lipstick application.

Jessica Kallista, digital print (limited edition of 3), 13x13"
Jessica Kallista, Medusa, digital print (limited edition of 3), 13×13″,  photo by Jay Hendrick

Abner De Jesus’ subject matter ran the gamut of skulls, skateboards, wolves. Alf Trip depicted sitcom royalty, ALF (Alien Life Form), all spiral eyed. Alf was a Cat consuming, laugh track inducing, furry puppet.

Abner De Jesus, enamel pen and acrylic on masonite, 6x6"
Abner De Jesus, Alf Trip, 2016, enamel pen and acrylic on masonite, 6×6″, photo by Jay Hendrick

Toni Hitchcock’s drawn carcasses and post-human animal drawings suggested a transformation of animal to human to dead thing and back again. Her Guardians, a series of flat cardboard, white-washed animal skulls might suggest a recycling of bones, a recycling of garbage, a recycling of life. But they’re all flat staring out at the viewer, judging or caught in the headlights.

Toni Hitchcock, mixed media, dimensions vary photo by Jay Hendrick
Toni Hitchcock, Guardians, mixed media, dimensions vary, photo by Jay Hendrick

Crystallography was a faceted work, both representationally faceted and materially faceted. TINCS cut through the board to imbed geologic tectonics displaying both real and represented textures using quartz and other minerals with graphite and paint.

TINCS, mixed media on panel board, 18x24", photo by Jay Hendrick
TINCS, Crystallography, mixed media on panel board, 18×24″, photo by Jay Hendrick

Javier Padilla was offering up icons and created an altar, complete with Eucharist crackers, wine, candles, and a Rubik’s Cube. And the self-titled show piece, Manifesto, depicted the Unabomber, the infamous icon turned Icon.

Javier Padilla, acrylic on panel, 8x11", photo by Jay Hendrick
Javier Padilla, Manifesto, acrylic on panel, 8×11″, photo by Jay Hendrick

The Bunnyman Bridge Collective offered up a visual manifesto at Olly Olly, a manifesto owing its spirit to the paranoia of an urban legend. Since it’s inception, Olly Olly has been disrupting expectations for sedate Fairfax, a town with almost no challenging art. Fairfax has art, just not much that disrupts suburban ennui. It’s a safe place, which could be dangerous for its inhabitants, perhaps more dangerous than a bunny suited psycho.

Olly Olly has been showing serious local DMV artists for over a year now. And this current show, Manifesto, follows that lineage with content addressing body image, popular culture, anthropocentrism, posthumanism, and religion. This content is the stuff of manifestos and can raise ire, declare, disrupt expectations —especially for a community still fearing urban legends made up of cute little bunnies hefting hatchets.


Manifesto is on view through June 18 and works can be seen by appointment by calling 703-789-6144 . Olly Olly is located at 10417 Main St., 2nd Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030.  Visit the gallery online at ollyolly.com