April 21, 2008
A huge golden cage fills half of the upper gallery ahead of which is a flying carpet suspended from the ceiling. The emptiness of the white space enforces the illusion of scale; the viewer is tiny compared to the vast dimensions of the cage. Walking around the circular cage, maintaining the suggested safe distance of 2 metres separation, the concentric rings of metallic bars have a harp like visual rhythm. Mircea Cantor has previously worked with the medium of live animals in earlier installations and this resplendent cage is a temporary home to both a male and female peacock. The peacocks are watching us watching them; both the viewer and the animals are uncertain of the nature of the interaction and who is ultimately in the power position. Modern Art Oxford have taken meticulous measures to make sure these are two of the best cared for peacocks on the planet. Having circled the cage a few time the visitor is free to leave, on each visit a different dose of animal behaviour having been observed. Alas the magic carpet lying overhead near the exit is non-functioning. Unlike the peacocks the visitor is not caged and is free to return to the rhythm of life. Suddenly the routine of work seems like a metaphorical cage and quite predictably boring. The need for uncertainty becomes clear.