Everything is caught up in a process of perpetual change; safety and stability are mere fictions or the products of social convention. As Carlos Bunga sees it, life and art play out in the unpredictable in-between. Such instability, the brittleness of reality, is especially manifest in architecture, the artist argues; although it ostensibly offers shelter, it at once also defines people’s social status. How architecture and the interplay between body and built environment influence our lives, what they tell us about our origins and possibilities: these are central concerns in Bunga’s work, as are themes like nomadism and both voluntary and forced migration. The artist studied painting at the Escola Superior de Arte e Design, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, before gradually branching out into other media and launching his international career in the mid-2000s with site-specific installations. In sometimes monumental and spectacular cardboard constructions, he responds to the architecture of the exhibition venue by replicating characteristic elements such as columns and pillars, flooring grids, or other distinctive formal features, creating a kind of echo that overlays the existing architecture and opens up new perspectives.
In his exhibition Mind awake, body asleep at the Secession, Bunga examines the mysteries of the relationship between body and mind, which become especially manifest when we sleep. The two sides’ recurrent separation and the separate nocturnal existences they lead are a source of fascination for the artist, who makes his works in a process informed by rational decisions as well as intuitive choices. In rooms that he has conceived as passages between different states of mind, he probes the tension between consciousness and the subconscious, the vulnerability of the body rendered helpless by sleep, and the function of architecture, furniture, and clothes as protective shells.