Deeparture (2005)
16mm film transferred to DVD, colour, silent, 2:43 min
edition of 5

One of Mircea Cantor’s best known works, Deeparture (2005) depicts two wild animals presented out of their element; a deer and a wolf within the blank white walls of an empty gallery. These natural enemies, predator and prey, are filmed without sound. They roam the room in a heightened state of alertness. The stark backdrop and silence of the work links the creatures in space while the camera frames points of view that heighten our awareness of the grace of their movements and of the perspective of the camera itself.

The animals both share the space and their abnormality to it, bringing to mind allegorical conclusions related to nature and dominance. The film exposes the vulnerability of the deer and the wolf as they acclimate to each other’s presence within an unnatural gallery environment. There is a sense of underlying risk and uncertainty—will the wolf attack? The anxiety that the animals evoke is balanced with what eventually comes forward as a truce between them as the seemingly imminent danger never materializes. 

Their enigmatic body language, breathing patterns, and mysterious eyes all contribute to a lure that projects human interpretations onto their behavior, constructing notions that are ultimately mere matters of speculation. As stated by the artist, the spelling of the title is meant to “encourage viewers to use the work as a departure point to look deeper into themselves.”

Deeparture (2005) has been exhibited at institutions such as MoMA, New York; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museo Nacional Centro de Art Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the artist’s solo exhibition at rennie museum in 2014, among others.

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