Shotgun Review

From Paris: Lives in Transit

By Shotgun Reviews March 24, 2013

In his first solo exhibition in France, titled Lives in Transit, the Albanian artist Adrian Paci addresses notions of belonging and loss in a diverse series of work made since 1997, the year of the civil war in Albania. Most of Paci’s works employ gesture and ritual in an investigative deliberation of the effects of socio-economic conditions on personal 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 address a degree of identity by way of a greeting (The Encounter [2011]), a celebration (Passages [2010]), a death (Mourner [2002]), and a perennial displacement (Centre of Temporary Residence [2007]). In each, viewers are privy to a deed that is not only exalted but also clearly dramatized, acted, and intended to challenge their senses of reality. Each video frame is an invitation into a personal moment, eventually betraying the narration—in the way that a wedding is also a farewell and a journey may not have a destination—thereby questioning cultural beliefs and social practices.

The next chapter of the exhibition explores power, deceit, and shame in intimate relations, familial bonds, and sexual roles. For example, Electric Blue (2010) tells the story of a man who is forced into pirating pornographic films for his livelihood in the postwar economic crunch. Having been found out by his adolescent son, he tapes over the footage with scenes of war from the news. The resulting film is an absurd montage of recurring clips of both porn and war, recalling the perversion of human desires and the wretchedness of their admission.

Paci poignantly uses his own body in his works, either broken by the weight of an upturned roof tied to his back in Home to Go (2011) or as witness to the suspicion of child abuse in Believe me I am an Artist (2000).


Adrian Paci. Home to Go, 2001; series of nine photographs; each 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Jeu de Paume, Paris.

By placing himself within the frame, Paci asserts his identity as an artist, resilient to the hardships it entails. Highlighting the trials of existential reality through his life story, Paci touches a common thread of constant yearning and succeeds in engaging the viewer in his narration.

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


Lives in Transit is on view at Jeu de Paume, in Paris, through May 12, 2013.


Kanika Anand is an art historian and curator based in New Delhi and Grenoble. Having worked with contemporary art galleries and projects for five years, she is currently a participant in the 2012–13 curatorial program at the Ecole du Magasin, Grenoble, France.

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