Mircea Cantor b. 1977
Cantor’s Deeparture (2005) is as severely economical in its setup as it is intense in its poetic potential. It involves two unwitting players, a wolf and a deer, in perhaps the most unlikely and artificial environment in which they can find themselves—a white-cube gallery. The artist shot the animals in 16mm film with a seemingly unforgiving eye, structuring a series of taut close-ups from various angles into a seamlessly looping video. Confounding expectations, the “natural” predator-prey relationship does not play itself out here. Instead, both animals keep their distance from each other and appear in turn tense, confused, exhausted, and dejected, even oblivious. As viewers are gradually roped into emotional engagement with the ultimately unreadable animals, they’re led to wonder if these nonhuman players serve as a blank screen upon which human emotions and psychological attachments are projected.