Bunny Michael Giving Great Advice
An interview with Bunny Michael by Luna Ali 4. August 2019
Brooklyn-based artist, psychedelic musician and author Bunny Michael has been described as »Instagram’s resident therapist« (Paper Mag). On Instagram they are exploring their spiritual relationship to their Higher Self while inviting us to join their journey. In their “doubles” the “Me” resembles a conflicted, anxious version of themselves whereas the “Higher Self” is offering wisdom and alternative perspectives on problems we all know too well. We are happy to welcome them at Fuchsbau Festival this year. Thus, we took that opportunity to grab a coffee via the world wide web and talk about supermarkets, their Higher Self and how spirituality influences their art and activism.
Under the leitmotif ‘Supermarket’ we are looking at everyday politics and global connections between us and the earth, between political movements and between ourselves. Thus, an important question needs to be asked at the beginning: What’s your favourite supermarket product?
Can it be from the farmer’s market? Maybe organic local strawberries then.
What do you love or hate about supermarkets?
I hate that they throw away so much food. And I love the aesthetic. I love all the colors. I actually like the grocery store I go to by my house with my wife. They play really good music and I dance a lot. But in general, it’s not my favourite place. Actually, I hate grocery shopping. In New York you get some stuff from the corner store because they have some vegetables there. But if you want to do a lot of shopping you go to a bigger one. It’s kind of a sad situation here because of the crown use. There are some poor neighborhoods which don’t have any access to fresh food or grocery stores. There are no businesses opening in such neighborhoods, so people are forced to go to fast food restaurants or smaller corner stores. So sometimes you don’t have the option to get healthy food. that’s why I’m bothered when people say: “You have to eat vegan” or “you have to eat healthy”, when the truth is that a lot of people do not have such options. It’s a very privileged perspective to tell people what they should be eating.
Now to your work: You described “Me and My Higher Self“ as you being a witness to yourself. What do you mean by that? And what makes art such an appealing form to express this process?
Well, I think we are at a time of building awareness of our conscious choices. Rather than just reacting, we are creating more space between our current behaviors and what we actually want. It’s a result of the devastating state of the planet where it’s becoming increasingly necessary to question the choices we have made. We have been brought up in this bubble, especially in the US, where you get happiness by having a lot of money, having a lot of things, power or status. The current president is just a symbol of what happens when you make greed and money the answers to life. It’s a good example of somebody who supposedly has a lot of money and all the power but who seems to be a very miserable person when it comes to compassion. We have to unlearn these structures we were conditioned to believe in in order to be happy. We have to become more aware of these automatic thinking patterns. I think we are born to be loving people, but we are taught the opposite. The Higher Self is acknowledging the intelligence of love that you have already within you and how to get back to that. And to me, art is the expression of humanity. Art is when we use our creativity. We are always self-expressing – just in different ways.
Why do you choose Instagram as a medium to express your relation to your Higher Self?
I was already posting on Instagram and making photographs of two of me, but I didn’t understand why. It was around the time where the Pepe memes where going around (which became a symbol of the alt-right during the elections). I just thought, what would be a higher thought? It was just what I did to deal with my bigger insecurities. It has expanded in ways I would have never thought of. It opened up so many possibilities to connect to other people. Instagram is a good way to connect to other people. Instagram feels a little bit more curated than for example Twitter.
Spirituality and self-care are a trend nowadays. Why do you think that is and how do you feel about the commodification of spirituality and self-care?
Self-care has always been there. I think a lot of cultural traditions – especially indigenous traditions and non-white traditions – have utilized different rituals and practices that are very much about selfcare and a connection to spirit has been there forever. What is happening right now, is that more white people are having their own awakenings about that and building their own culture about it. It’s especially important now, because of technology, social media and all the scary things we have access to on our phones all the time. It’s very overwhelming and we don’t know where to put off all the emotions that are coming up.
In which sense is spirituality a political act? How do spirituality and activism inform each other in your work?
I think spirituality is just reality – we are just spirits having a human experience. Spirituality is just being aware of who we are. So everything falls into that realm – whether it’s politics or relationships. If we had more spiritual understanding in politics, we’d be in a much better place. We really need to talk about what love looks like as political policy, what peace looks and how we can get there. It just doesn’t make logical sense, where we arein our politics right now – we’re killing our own home, we’re killing each other for no reason other than for some people to make more money than they can ever spend in their lifetime. It’s pretty much insanity. The more we awaken through spirituality, the more we’re going to realize what we’ve been doing and realize, there is a way to get out of this. Spirituality helps you beyond limitations and beyond fear.
Your “Higher Self” is very reflective and clear while the “Me” is caught by their feelings. What is the difference between feeling and thinking for you?
Thinking can sometimes get you into trouble. Because a lot of our thoughts aren’t really true. The key is to build an awareness of our thinking – that being the Higher Self. This is important because we all have this built-up energy from our feelings, but feelings are also not always true. Because feelings and emotions come from certain thoughts. Building your own consciousness really changes how you think and how you feel, and thus how you see the world.
Your work seeks to empower and heal the audience. How can we define freedom/liberation in a non-individualistic or market-oriented way? How can solidarity look like to you?
I believe the key to that is to realize that we are actually one consciousness. We perceive with our own eyes because our vision is limited. We are connected on a metaphysical level; we are actually not separate at all. That’s why you cannot not be affected by what happens on the other side of the world. The more we realize and the more awareness we build to that through our spiritual practice and awakening – and that is what compassion is – the more our choices will be different. If we don’t take care of each other, we’re not taking care of ourselves. Helping each other is really the only purpose we have here, I think.
What are you working on right now? Can you describe any current projects or activities? What will you show us at Fuchsbau Festival?
First, I’m going to give a talk about why we don’t listen to our Higher Self and why we’re not there yet but how we could get there. Then I’m doing a music show later, with my lyrics all being based on these ideas but in a more surreal way, not so literal. Right now I am working on a lot of things – I’m making a new album and I’m also filming my web series that is based on my Instagram-Videos. Only now we have budget for 20 more episodes. We are in the pre-production-stage of shooting and I’m very excited because it’s taking the concept of the Higher Self and lifting it up to a narrative story. It’s very much based on my life in New York but still fictional with me as a musician trying to make it but I have my Higher Self there above me.
Photo credit: All pictures are from Bunny’s instagram: @bunnymichael