The art piece Reflejo (Reflection) by Carlos Bunga, currently residing in the Gund Gallery, is an exhibit with 40 identical boxes, all painted white and lined in ordinary, neat rows. The boxes lay at the very center of one of the Gallery’s hallways and allow each viewer to step inside any box of their choosing. In his art description, Bunga explains that the boxes are meant to represent how each of us experienced both seclusion and unity during the pandemic. He explains further that the piece is meant to demonstrate a juxtaposition of “togetherness and isolation.”
To the untrained eye, Reflejo may look misplaced, but in reality the work of art reflects what it means to have the viewer participate in artistic installations. The piece is not complete until one or more people step inside one of the 40 empty box spaces, yet it is another representation of how art can be anything you want it to be. While the work may seem simple, I found it was able to successfully challenge what art can look like.
The minimalist composition, while ambiguous, allows for mystery and personal interpretation, providing space for the viewer to give it meaning and purpose through active participation in the composition. Without anyone taking part in the box formation, it is simply rows of boxes on the ground. I stood inside one of the boxes, and I was able to imagine 39 other individuals standing in the boxes with me, and in that moment it felt like I was a part of something greater than myself. The unity of the forty boxes contrasted with the solitude of my individual box, much like the dynamics of solidarity and isolation many of us experienced during the pandemic. I think everyone should step inside Reflejo at least once this semester, whether it be with a friend or by yourself. When you enter one of Bunga’s boxes, you are able to bring his objective to life and illustrate how even in the midst of an isolating pandemic, it is still possible to create a connected community.