Naima Morelli

Mircea Cantor at Macro

“Sic transit Gloria mundi” is what is written in burn marks on the white wall of Macro’s Enel Room.

That’s an epigraph that could sound powerful, but dramatic and resigned as well. It is not simple for an artist to deal with decadence. I mean, working on a concept so wide like “The word is falling apart”. He has to be careful, not to be demagogic or didactic.

He has to distance himself to the common sense, like your typical neighbour’s morning remarks “The word is changing. When I was young everything was totally different. Better than now, for sure. We have no autumn and spring anymore”.

Mircea Cantor luckly, succeed to be ecumenical not being banal.

In Macro’s room we can find tree works showing the Weltanshauung of the Romanian-born artist. As always, he uses diverse media.

The first work is a video, full of symbolism. A white-dressed woman unrolls a coiled string on the hand of bowed man. Then she sets fire to the end of the cord. She continues to unroll the string while the fire is passing on to the bandaged hands of the men gathered in a circle. At the end she blows on the flame and everything disappears.

That video seems to be a stunning reflection on life, destiny and on religion. How men tried to capture something, a meaning, maybe for life itself, but they get burnt. We can interpret the string as a human life that gets consumed. Anyway, for Mircea Cantor freedom is just an illusion.

We can find the same vision in the large wooden installation nearby. A sort of reproduction of the San Pietro’s Basilica of Rome, but one made of timbers. Like the Ikea version of religious buildings.

The extraordinary thing is that starting from the top of the scaffolding you find four big cords linked to a wooden cross. At first glance this recalls christianity, actually it is more like the wooden cross used by puppeteers to move marionettes.

One more time a hidden Deus ex machina.

Micea Cantor’ third work is called “Epic Fountain”, a perfect example of multiple meanings in a single installation. A huge DNA double elix made from golden safety pins starting from the ceiling and falling down to the floor. The installation is self explanatory: the colour gold deals with something very precious and unique, the safety pins recall old child raising traditions.

Playing with paradoxes and surprise, revealing appearance and truth, contemplating on life and death, Mircea Cantor succeeds to talk deeply of the Chief Systems. Neither giving a pretentious vision, nor a commonplace vision, just his own, that is still valid for us.

Oh, if we only have autumn and spring anymore!

Naima Morelli


Mircea Cantor – Sic Transit Gloria Mundi – Macro – Rome


16 Marzo – 3 Giugno 2012


published in NY Arts Magazine

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