2 September 2011

InitiArt Magazine interview with Mircea Cantor

Mircea Cantor, Tracking Happiness, 2009, 11' Super 16mm transfered to HDCA. © Mircea Cantor. Courtesy of the artist

This interview was conducted last summer in Monchengladbach (Germany) where Mircea Cantor presented his solo show in the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Wise as a Serpent and Innocent as a Dove, a survey of his last 7 years’ works.

At the occasions of Mircea Cantor's nomination for the Marcel Duchamp Prize and his upcoming solo exhibition in Le Credac (France), More Cheeks Than Slaps, 16 Sept - 18 December 2011, we decided to republish this interview to kick off la rentrée, the energetic re-entering of the world deserted during the long vacation.

By Selina Ting

One of the most important young artists emerged in the international art scene since the last decade, Mircea Cantor (*1977, Romania) is best known for his use of video and mixed media installations to address the notions of displacement, uncertainty, fragility of convictions and uneasy confrontation of ideologies. The artist said at an interview that today “as we live in a simultaneous world where various items meet in the same place and time, there is a space of a beautiful tension that can lead toward a new vision”.

Adapting a highly economic language, the artist is far more optimistic than cynical with his art. A flying carpet with symbols of angels and airplanes is enough to bring different religions and values together. Despite being labeled as “provocative” from time to time, Mircea is in fact an idealist. A co-existed world in perfect harmony is perhaps not so unattainable in his eyes. “Le Monde” should be “Les Mondes” (2008). At least he has faith in Man. But he is not innocent; his innocence has purity at heart but wisdom in the mind.

Mircea Cantor, Double Heads Matches, 2002. (Still from video). © Mircea Cantor. Courtesy of the artist

Talking about his video Double Heads Matches (2002)which gained him attention, he said he was lucky to have met the Romanian manufacturer who found a crazy solution to produce 20,000 boxes of double-heads matches, legally against the EU law and technically impossible to do such a task. Mircea stressed the contrast in his cinematographic language, “you can see from the videos, they had to cut the wood into matchsticks, and dipped both tips into phosphorusat and dried them in a special oven. I recorded the whole process step by step. The first part of the production was by machine, very systematic and mechanical, noisy. Then the second part is made by human hand which gives different motion, speed.” When the aggression of the machine is replaced by the warmth of the human hand, the images then speak of attention, passion and quietness.

Mircea Cantor, Deeparture, 2005. (Still from video). © Mircea Cantor. Courtesy of the artist

Mircea is a vegetarian and he wants his food to be prepared with care and passion, which were obviously absent in the salad before him. Critical towards the mass-consumption and fast-food culture, he does not want to comply with the market’s expectation for the ever new and newer works. Instead, he integrates and juxtaposes his old works with newer pieces in his solo shows. In his installation piece, The Need for Uncertainty (2008), for example, where two peacocks (born and brought up in cages) were placed inside a gallery space in a series of golden cages, it becomes a symbol of our daily illusion of freewill as well as an artist’s self-reflexive questioning of his social role to perform, to produce and to please the public.

Mircea Cantor, The Need for Uncertainty (2008) © Mircea Cantor. Courtesy of the artist. Courtesy Yvon Lambert, Paris, New York.