Your Ruins Are My Flag is the emblematic title selected by Mircea Cantor for the exhibition hosted by Giuliani Foundation for Contemporary Art in Rome until December 16, 2017. The artist exhibits, for the first time in Italy, a corpus of 10 new works, which bring the user into the History of our contemporaneity and our past. Materials and titles of the exibited works open up some reflections on the dynamics of the present world that, in its present, reproduces schemes and tragedies that sink roots in such an archaic past to be confused with the same human reality. Thus, in the series of sculptures dedicated to the ruins of Aleppo, a rope-column made with the traditional soap of the same city, seems to make the last stages of its function as supporting element. In four distinct moments, it abandons its verticality between the dust and the rubble of an end, to find itself “stretched” on extruded polyurethane mats, almost relaxed in the sleep of memory.
Tragedy and irony coexist in these works that, despite the drama, seem to express an intrinsic will to look beyond, leaving open a hope for a new beginning. Aleppo here is not only a geographic place battered by war, but it is the symbol of the war itself and of the dark part that inhabits the human being, obscurity that can probably be illuminated by the conscience of individual and collective responsibility, even on things that seem distant from our everyday reality.
In the work Fontana delle Mani (2017) the artist puts the emphasis right on this, inserting in a wooden fountain a screen that plays a video, made with infrared camera, where some hands are represented in the act of washing, using an Aleppo soap hand-sculpture. The message is immediate and it is difficult not to feel involved.
Powder and rubble also inhabits Give More Sky to the Flags (2016), in which steel flags seem to symbolize men and countries looking for a space that seems never to be enough. On the ruins of a destroyed site, these elements point to the need for another sky where to wave. Other air and other land to occupy, further parts of the world to possess. The same world in which man, in fact, often tends to feel absolute master without fully considering the effects of his actions on the whole.
In Distrupted Air (still life) (2017) the artist occupies a room of the Foundation with an expanse of vases of Spatifillo, placing on each plant paperclips of newspaper. The fragile balance between man, what he is with his culture, and nature is therefore in our hands, called to take care of the environment that is home to us and who lives with us.
All of the works exhibited – including the series Get the world in the world (2017) made up of Aleppo soap sculptures, which refer to both rope bobbins and the same rope column rolled on itself, and Haiku Under Tension, (2017), where heaps of rubble “play” with a large elastic rug – they seem to speak of the responsibility that each one has towards the other, the world and nature in its complexity, since we are all part of a single ecosystem, which is necessary to maintain balance so that it is sustainable for every element, including humanity.
The concluding work of the exhibition, The World Belongs to Those Who Set It On Fire (2016) can provide a further moment of reflection on this same concept. In it, Cantor depicts a painted world using candle smoke.The result is an aesthetically refined planisphere, but with the symbolism of the end. A world devoid of everything, dried and carbonized. End that can be avoided, or at least postponed, paying attention to our gestures and gaining awareness of the responsibility we have for them.
Mircea Cantor. Your Ruins Are My Flag
October 12 – December 16, 2017
Giuliani Foundation for Contemporary Art
Via Gustavo Bianchi, 1 Rome
Timetable: Tuesday-Saturday, 3.00 – 7:30 pm
Mircea Cantor, Disrupted Air (still life), 2017, Spatifillum, newspapers, variable dimensions
Mircea Cantor, Vertical Aleppo, 2017, Aleppo soap, rubble, bricks, column h. 370 cm, ø 49cm
Mircea Cantor, The World Belongs to Those Who Set It On Fire, 2016, candle smoke on paper, 196 x 284 cm