To watch the video after this texte.
Mircea Cantor self-professes that he ‘lives and works on Earth’. With an art practice encompassing video, photography, drawing and installation, Cantor explores the broad experience of humanity, ruminating on themes of cultural history, memory and displacement. As part of the 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, Mircea Cantor’s video work Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (2012) will be presented at the Art Gallery of NSW, along with his sculptural piece, Epic Fountain (2012).
Sic transit gloria mundi, a Latin phrase translating to ‘thus passes the glory of the world’, is a motto of both political and religious significance. Used by the media as political jargon, it has also been uttered during the coronation service of the Roman Catholic Pope. Cantor appropriates the saying as a memento mori, or symbolic reminder of the fragility of life and inevitability of death.
The video portrays a young, elegantly draped woman laying a burning fuse across the outstretched hands of a circle of faceless people. Set apart from the woman by both their clothing and posture, there is an unspoken acceptance among the group, a resignation that their fate lies in the hands of another. On their knees, the assembly appears as if in prayer, perhaps begging for forgiveness or, indeed, their lives. The woman could be the croupier in a game of roulette; each individual, a pawn in a play of chance. In conjunction with the film, the text ‘Sic Transit Gloria Mundi’ appears on the wall, handwritten in dynamite. Cantor’s installation is a reminder of the cycle of life, the breadth of humanity and the poetics of ignition.
A sense of line and trace connects much of Cantor’s artistic output. This interest manifests in various ways, from the personal trace of a person – a footprint or fingerprint – to a broader reflection on the traces left by nations and civilisations as a whole. Photography is employed by Cantor as a simple and effective means to document these movements. Shortcuts (2004) is a photographic triptych revealing the off-route pathways created by walkers through a park in Cantor’s Romanian hometown. These unofficial tracks, deviating from the course set by the original town planners, reflect on the organic nature and independent will of individuals.
Cantor’s film Tracking Happiness (2009) presents the viewer with seven identically dressed and physically similar women slowly following each other in a circle. The women are walking on a fine bed of white sand, sweeping away the footsteps of those before them, only to create a trace of their own as they walk over patches they have just cleared. The circular path, having neither beginning nor end, creates an endless, arduous and ultimately futile task for the sweeping women. Their fate seems akin to that of a circle of chained prisoners, while their broomsticks and the ritual of circling allude to magic and witchcraft. The film can be seen as a metaphor for our contemporary technology-led lives in which the new is continually replaced by the newer (but to what end?), or – as the work’s title suggests – humanity’s endless, and ultimately hopeless, pursuit of an ideal of happiness.watch the video:mircea cantor Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
Calligraphy, 1864. Word composition with invocations of Allah, Mohammed, Fatimah et al. Turkey. © Photo: Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Martin Franken
(The work exhibited was held at the gallery cat cho, Utagawa Kuniyoshi Tribute Exhibition in remembrance of Mr. Kuniyoshi who was a cat lover in Edo of Chakichaki.
It is just as it is, but I drew the Edo cat.)
your dog is melting and you just stand taking pictures absolutely disgusting