Lives in Transit by Adrian Paci

In his first solo exhibition in France titled Lives in Transit, Albanian artist Adrian Paci addresses notions of belonging and loss in a diverse series of work made since 1997, dating to the civil war in Albania. Most of Paci’s works employ gesture and ritual in an investigative deliberation into the effects of socio-economic conditions on identity. Five rooms of the prestigious Jeu de Paume in Paris are dedicated to the artist’s work. 

The first room of the exhibition comprises videos that each addresses a degree of identity by way of a greeting- The Encounter, 2011, a celebration- Passages, 2010, a death- The Mourner, 2002 and a perennial displacement- Centre of Temporary Residence, 2007. In each, we are privy to an exalted deed, but one that is also clearly dramatized, acted, and intended to challenge our reality. In the staging of all his works, Paci takes a distance from personal experiences that influence his art, using fiction to make the narration more potent and also more bizarre. 

The next chapter of the exhibition explores more intimate relations, of familial bonds and sexual roles, of power, deceit and shame- what governs them and the twisted ways they are often played out. For example, Electric Blue, 2010 tells the story of a man who is forced into pirating pornographic films as a means of livelihood in the post war crunch. Having been found out by his adolescent son, he re-tapes the footage with scenes of war from the news. The resulting film is an absurd montage of recurring clips from both porn and war.

Paci then explores his role as an artist, as site and subject, albeit insinuating the attitudes and impressions prevalent in society that frame his work- that have loaded it in content and that have at times, stripped it of humor and/or dignity. He poignantly uses his own body; either broken by the weight of an upturned roof tied to his back in Home to Go, 2011 or witness to suspicion of child abuse in Believe me I am an Artist, 2000.

The exhibition concludes with a video installation, The Column, 2013 created specifically for the show. The film exemplifies through the life cycle of a marble block the bearings of production efficiency in a poetic sea journey from East to West wherein Chinese sculptors transform the block on board the vessel into a magnificent Roman column, now planted in the Jardin des Tuileries.

Lives in Transit is on view until May 12, 2013 and is a must see for all in Paris. For more information, please visit Jeu de Paume, Paris.