THE WAY THINGS GO - Pedro Barateiro & Carlos Bunga
14 July - 10 September
The Way Things Go
Mónica Álvarez Careaga
In their video “The Way Things Go” (1987) the Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss used everyday objects in order to explore the visual effects that comes out of their, more or less controlled, evolution. In the film things move forward, they roll, get set on fire, overcome obstacles… and continue.
This ironic and funny criticism on everyday life brings up the nature of the work of art in a subtle way and can be seen as a metaphor on life in society, on the unbalanced relationships and the unstable states, the casual encounters and the clashes of interests that constitutes the precariousness of daily life.
Precariousness has become one of the defining characteristics of contemporary society, a precariousness that weakens it all, that implies absence of commitment and that multiplies suffering, uncertainty, mistrust and existential anxiety, in short.
Most of us being subject to all sorts of eventualities –from the arbitrary decisions made by some political and financial leaders to the natural and technological disasters announced by the media - the mystery and the imponderable appear as central themes of a potentially significant art.
The exhibition The Way Things Go focuses on these thematic cores and it is created through the work of two Portuguese artists belonging to the same generation, only a little older than the Geração à Rasca who recently showed its discontent with an often exclusive social and economic system. It is about Pedro Barateiro (Almada, 1979) and Carlos Bunga (Oporto, 1976), whose installative or photographic devices establish a surprising balance between the objects and their environment, between their usual meanings and the associations of meaning that they provoke. Both artists build their discourse around furniture and architect by-products, objects and the spatial issue.
Pedro Barateiro presents his multifactorial mode of operating through an purpose - created installation and two photographic series “A raiz da boca”, 2009 and “A perspectiva do Espectador”, 2010. Though both are finally resolved as photographs, they use a different creative process. “A raiz da boca” suggests a kind of staged sculpture, arranging different types of objects in a sought –after equilibrium on a chair to highlight the sense of fragility and momentariness. It is not by chance that these objects confront nature (a piece of a tree root) and culture (a pencil). “A perspectiva do Espectador”, the second of the series, re-uses file images presenting them crumpled as the rejected paper sheet on which we begin to write an impossible discourse. Mozambique, the former Portuguese colony in Africa, is plundered and then exhibited.
Carlos Bunga’s work equally stresses the idea of decadence, crisis and destruction. The precarious cardboard structures that make up the main pieces of his work “Geologic Time”, 2010, speak of the traces of a remote society brought to a standstill, and its outlines are kept in the wound of the territory. The house plans, the main structures of a city are reproduced in cardboard models that take up again the aesthetics of a well studied and stabilized archaeological excavation, petrified and waiting for a gentrification process that will never come. The fictitious aerial photographs register the construction traces, the foundations of an outmoded civilization.
The capacity to adapt and precariousness are ideas that can be gathered from the small cardboard sculptures placed on stools or bedside tables that Carlos Bunga calls “Untitled, model”, 2007-2008. Functionally, they remind us of the stilt rooms as those to be found in non westernized places, Cambodia, New Guinea, the Orinoco basin… or perhaps it is just about sculptural pedestals. One of these works has been turned over. It stands before us in a corner, victim of an accident, unbalanced but not destroyed.
Speaking of the photographic series from 1984 called “Equilibres / Quiet Afternoon”, Peter Fischli said: “We discovered that we could leave all formal decision up to balance. Apparently, there was not a better or a worse way to do it, just the right way.
The Carlos Vallejo Collection