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adrian paci

Lives in transit

MAC – Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal
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lives in transit


This show featuring works produced since the late 1990s provides a sense of the great humanity that characterizes the art of Adrian Paci. Through the tensions he introduces in these pieces between the real and the fictional, tangible and political, conflictual and fabulous he applies a present-day sensibility to ove-rarching themes that have been present throughout time, such as identity, memory, ritual and loss. In creating narratives where much remains unsaid, he invites us to become personally engaged in his work and to fill in the spaces left blank. Speaking about his work, the artist recently told the newspaper Libération “I think every piece arises out of a desire to build a bridge between what you have already done and a territory you are discovering. An artist’s body of work is a living body that needs to grow, to develop. Mounting an exhibition like this one is thus an opportunity to consider this body in its complexity and try to under-stand its moods, its needs, its forms and its weaknesses.”

The work that brought Paci widespread public recognition, Home to Go, 2001, is a marble montage of the artist’s naked body carrying a ceramic-tiled roof strapped to his back; this emblematic piece speaks of dislocation, identity and hybridity. In Vajtojca (Mourner, 2002), which depicts a funeral wake, Paci makes himself the subject of an elegy whose powerful, stirring words are sung by a professio-nal mourner. The Encounter, 2011, takes place in Sicily, in front of the church of San Bartolomeo where hundreds of people are lined up to shake the artist’s hand, in a personal encounter between the individual and the collectivity. The Column, 2013, the artist’s latest video, produced specially for the exhibition, documents the fascinating sea voyage of a “factory boat” that left China loaded with a block of marble that would be carved on the voyage by five Chinese craftsmen and would reach its destination… in the form of a column. The video installation titled Last Gestures, 2009, poetically and eloquently evokes a bride-to-be’s final moments with her family. This work was purchased by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in 2011, with support from the National Bank Private Wealth 1859 Collectors Symposium 2011. In Albanian Stories, 1997, the artist’s first video, Paci captures his three-year-old daughter telling her dolls fairytales the way all little girls do, but with the difference that hers mix up animals, fictional characters and actual soldiers, bearing poignant and unique testimony to war and exile. In these pieces and the others on view, the intersection of reality and fable creates an in-between space that opens up onto the universal.

Lives in Transit is a co-production of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Jeu de Paume, Paris, and PAC – Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan. It recei-ved support from Québec’s Ministère des Relations internationales, de la Franco-phonie et du Commerce extérieur and France’s Ministère des Affaires étrangères (Consulate General of France, Québec City) in connection with the sixty-fourth session of the Commission permanente de la coopération franco-québécoise. Curated by: Adrian Paci, Marie Fraser, guest curator, and Marta Gili, director of the Jeu de Paume.