CARLOS BUNGA: DOUBLE ARCHITECTURE
Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga relies on mundane materials—cardboard, chiefly, as well as packing tape, paint, and the like—to create architecturally inspired installations. Creating mirrors of the space the work occupies, constructing complex labyrinths that shroud visitors inside brown and white walls, or intervening directly into the architecture of a given space, Bunga’s works all deal with the ways in which our built environments impact, guide, and occasionally fail us. Carlos Bunga: Double Architecture is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
CARLOS BUNGA: DOUBLE ARCHITECTURE
FEBRUARY 2 – APRIL 15, 2018
Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga relies on mundane materials—cardboard, chiefly, as well as packing tape, paint, and the like—to create architecturally inspired installations. Creating mirrors of the space the work occupies, constructing complex labyrinths that shroud visitors inside brown and white walls, or intervening directly into the architecture of a given space, Bunga’s works all deal with the ways in which our built environments impact, guide, and occasionally fail us. Throughout his works, physical structures also act as analogs for forms and patterns of thought. Destruction, displacement, and repetition are tropes that the artist returns to again and again, each act of creation and disassembly eating away at our sense of architecture’s solidity, and with it, our grasp on our own ideological defaults.
Bunga’s site-specific installations are set in dialogue with the architectures that they occupy. Often conceived in response to the building and its original purpose, Bunga works intuitively in response to space, creating (and often destroying) his works in psychic dialogues with their surroundings. In Capella (2016), an installation created in partnership with Barcelona’s MACBA, the artist responded to a space originally meant for communal worship. Inside the domed stone structure, Bunga created a new set of walls, columns, and passages out of cardboard.
Transforming the space in this way, by compartmentalizing the openness of the church’s central hall, was only Bunga’s first step. His next gesture, which he documented through video, was to destroy what had just been built. Using box cutters, the artist slashed the walls and columns near their bases, pushing, pulling, and collapsing the teetering walls to create a new ruin within the cavernous space. The immensity of this doubled architecture—the original, soaring stone walls, and the enormous piles of cardboard wreckage—composed a psychologically rich interior that overwhelmed the senses, humbled and disoriented its visitors.
Bunga’s works have strong phenomenological effects, his installations transporting us somewhere else, altering our senses of ourselves, and carrying us on an ambiguous temporal journeys. Working through these gestures of negation and transformation, Bunga recalls the artistic interventions of Michael Heizer, Gordon Matta Clark, and Lawrence Weiner, who also carved into, dug up, cut apart, reconfigured, and altered both landscapes and architectures. His works, like theirs, are both poetic and raw, aesthetically simple and conceptually complex.
Bunga’s installation for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit relies on his usual materials: cardboard, glue, and tape. Piecing together these elements, Bunga forms a spiraling maze within the Museum’s gallery that doubles and heightens our sense of enclosure. Echoing the rawness of the Museum’s building through its simple materials, Bunga’s labyrinth creates both an architectural space and a psychological enclosure. Forcing visitors into a space of contemplation, quiet, and confinement, Bunga’s installation encourages a confrontation with the self, an examination of our own interiority within the constructed space of its cardboard walls.
Carlos Bunga works in architecturally scaled, site-specific installations, made from mass-produced materials such as cardboard, packing tape, and household paint, resemble temporary shelters or surreal, colorful urban interiors. Bunga builds these maquettes in dialogue with the surrounding architecture of the gallery, reconfiguring it as somewhere between a decaying space and a construction site. “Behind his psychologically and politically charged environments lie urgent and timely issues related to demographics, immigration, socio-economic disparity, and the fragility of contemporary city life,” wrote one curator. Extending his practice conceptually, Bunga also records his installations in videos, mixed-media collage, and drawings that resemble plans or diagrams.