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At the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Romanian folk-art pieces are in dialogue with 18th century French paintings.

Mircea Cantor at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

As part of the 2019 France-Romania Season, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris is giving carte blanche to the Romanian artist Mircea Cantor, from 15th January to 31st March.

Updated on 15/03/2019

2 min

The exhibition, entitled “Vânătorul de imagini” – in English, “Image Hunter” – recalls the three cornerstones of Mircea Cantor’s work: territory, meeting and representation. In two dedicated exhibition rooms and also within the permanent collection of the Museum of Hunting and Nature, the artist is placing paintings, installations and videos which were partly created for the exhibition, as well as Romanian folk-art pieces and commissioned works from other young artists.

 

 

Territory and fingerprint

Winner of the 2011 Marcel Duchamp Prize, today Mircea Cantor shows her work at the top venues for contemporary art such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Born in 1977 in Oradea, Romania, Mircea Cantor likes to work on the concept of “territory”, in all its dimensions: the territory of a human or animal community; the territory of reality and the imagination; and, relatedly, the concept of personal territory, of intimate space. This theme is evident beginning with the first work visitors encounter on the ground floor, Breath Separator (2017), a glass structure painted with white lines which seem to represent barbed wire. Upon closer examination, we discover that these lines are made up of a series of fingerprints. The work thus blends two borders: the physical, earth-bound border of barbed wire, and also the symbolic border of the fingerprint, between private spaces and the public domain – today an increasingly fluid border due to the increased use of this unique, individual and personal mark to unlock our phones or travel.

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Aquila non capit muscas (2018), by Mircea Cantor, one of the main exhibits.
© Mircea Cantor
Aquila non capit muscas (2018), by Mircea Cantor

Predator and prey

For Mircea Cantor, the territory is also frequently the site of challenging rivalries between humans and animals. Bearing witness to this is the eagle from the short film Aquila non capit muscas (2018), presented in the second room, which was tasked with hunting drones on behalf of the French army and ends up catching ones in its claws. In this film, which is one of the main exhibits and which was produced without any editing, humans use an animal to protect us from ourselves. This reversal is echoed in the rest of the exhibition, through a series of black ink drawings of eagles placed between two eagles, stuffed, killed and frozen in a position chosen by humans.

The other frontier that interests Mircea Cantor equally is that which separates humanity and animal nature. The artist gathered a hundred animal masks used during the Bear Day celebrations in northern Romania. Bearing witness to a tradition born in the Roman era and still practised today during which inhabitants dress up as animals and chimeric creatures, these masks have been loaned by the Romanian Peasant Museum in Bucharest.

 

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Animal masks used during the Bear Day celebrations in Romania, gathered by the artist.
© T. Chapotot
Animal masks used during the Bear Day celebrations in Romania, gathered by the artist.

To complement this parade, on the top floor, in a "Camera de oaspeti" ("room of friends") Cantor installed works commissioned from Romanian artists of different generations such as Marius Bercea, Cornel Brudascu, Dan Beudean, Serban Savu and Gabriela Vanga. On the theme of human-animal relations, these works are in dialogue with 18th century paintings by Chardin and Oudry from the museum's permanent collection. Most of the artists involved, like Mircea Cantor, earned their reputations as part of the Transylvania Cluj school. This is an opportunity to introduce French viewers to the region’s cultural richness, which goes far beyond Count Dracula's castle.

The Institut français and the project

The exhibition “Vânătorul de imagini” is organised as part of the 2019 France-Romania Season.

 

The 2019 France-Romania Season (November 2018-July 2019) is implemented by the Institut français and, in Romania, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and National Identity and the Romanian Cultural Institute, with the support of the French and Romanian embassies, the Alliances Françaises and other ministries in both countries.

L'institut français, LAB