Yet Rogers’s latest aesthetic response has been to offer a cosplay of the whole ordeal, far too literally, 20 years later. Far from Colorado and the families actually affected by the tragedy, Rogers and her bohemian New York friends played keyboard and guitar and sang songs about heartbreak. Rogers donned a cheerleading uniform for one of the numbers, a fairy-tale gown for another. “Sanctuary” was so far removed from the actualities of the events and people that inspired it that the entire premise was almost laughable.
Yet the tone of “Sanctuary” was full of misplaced earnestness, an attempt at empathy that ultimately rang hollow. Instead of offering an incisive critique of violence, or a strange new understanding of what it means to live in a country where nearly 40,000 people die of gun violence per year, Rogers offered a magical realm where snow falls in hallways and gun death is a romance of good lighting and stage makeup. The performance connects to Rogers’s 2016 animated film Mandy’s Piano Solo in Columbine Cafeteria, in which the titular character performs in a snow-covered room.