Italy-based artist Adrian Paci has been making video works that address issues of collective history and personal discovery. Often inspired by autobiographical details and by the arduous transformations of his home country, Paci’s work intertwines personal narratives with metaphorical and poetical chronicles of the experience of life in exile. The artist often works with non-professional actors, as he pictures the identity of a decade characterized by conflict, migration, displacement and loss.
For the High Line, Paci presents a suite of three videos:
In The Encounter (2011), the artist stands in the middle of a Sicilian square in front of a gorgeous baroque church in the small town of Scicli. Dressed in a full dark suit with a chair next to him, Paci greets a long line of people, who came to the village to meet the artist and shake his hand. In a highly metaphorical action, Paci encounters more than 700 people, turning an everyday gesture into a symbolic ritual.
In PilgrIMAGE (2005), Paci traces the history surrounding a legend in his hometown as it unravels between reality and fiction. In the 15th Century his town of Shkodra was conquered by the Ottomans. Legend has it that a venerated painting of a Madonna and Child was saved from the invaders by angels, and brought to a church just outside Rome. Local residents to this day still hope in the return of the painting to the Albanian town. The artist organized a public screening in Albania which he showed a video of the actual painting in the Italian church. Then in Italy, he showed a video of his hometown waiting for the painting to return to its original home.
In Turn On (2004), Paci portrays a group of middle-aged Albanian men sitting on the steps in the town square of his native town of Shkodra. Their sun-wrinkled faces stare at the camera, while each of them holds up a light bulb connected to a small generator. One by one they turn on their light, a simple gesture full of both symbolic power and political charge.
(1,2) Photo by Timothy Schenck. (3) Photo by Liz Ligon.