Skip navigation.
POMERANZ COLLECTION

MIRCEA CANTOR

Which Light Kills You
2005-2008
Light box
21 x 33 cm
Edition 3/3
Inv. Nr. 77

Born in 1977 in Oradea, Romania
Lives and works in Paris, France & Cluj Napoca, Romania

Having grown up in Eastern Europe during the Communist era, Mircea Cantor frequently draws on his own memory to explore the realities of power and the disintegration of cultural boundaries. He often positions himself at the crossroads between worlds, acting as an observer of societies and cultures and encouraging comparisons between differing attitudes and beliefs. The use of a simple and direct language, strongly poetic and evocative, composed of a glossary of essentialist images such as bread, maize, fingerprints, DNA helix, offers layered levels of perception.

The picture of an incandescent light bulb as will not be seen anymore in a few years time, rendered obsolete by energy saving policies, is shown in Which Light Kills You in an almost anatomical way, lit this time by means of a light box, rather than illuminating by itself. Some flies are stuck to the bulb, with their wings burnt in their suicidal determination to reach the light. This strong image naturally leads to this parable: because light and heat attract as a source of pleasure, they can also burn, therefore becoming a source of danger.

The video Tracking Happiness features a group of barefoot women clad in white, walking in a circular movement across fine white sand. Their footprints are continuously swept away by their broom-wielding successors. A brilliantly harsh light blurs the edges of their surroundings into the infinite, and a slightly mystical feeling about the tableau makes the women look like angelic figures, although the everyday banality of their straw brooms disrupts this impression. In this film, Cantor examines the paradox of an age in which traces are perpetually left then deleted, as well as the struggle towards the pursuit of happiness.

Chaplet (a string of beads for counting prayers) is the representation of barbed wire imprinted directly onto the glass wall by the artist's fingers dipped in ink. This line, with its unequivocal motive, is displayed in a strangely expressive manner. The multiple fingerprints give a striking feeling of the body’s strength, while the pattern is obviously a symbol of violence and coercion that prevents freedom for human beings. The aggressive form, with its peaks and its tension, is here violently linked to the tender and sensitive flesh of the fingertips. At yet another level, this refers to the question of surveillance, such as biometric identification. Our contemporary societies are full of invisible barriers and increasingly insuperable restrictions, which have become in the past few years the new border guards, while most of the walls have collapsed or dream of doing so.

The installation Geschäft ist Geschäft plays with symbolic reflection. The work is composed of a neon sign, forming the cynical proverb “Geschäft ist Geschäft” (Business is business) which can only be read in a mirror on the facing wall, also including the viewer’s reflection. Broken mirror shards evoking diamonds are stuck into horse manure and complete this device. With the mirror, the faeces and the false gemstones topped by the proverb, the artist refers with very ordinary images to an economic sphere made of pretences and swindling.