Time Out New York
November 29, 2007
With two shows this month, the Albanian-born, Milan-based artist Adrian Paci has made New York’s art world his newest home away from home. Still, his varied works make clear that his mind is elsewhere: on his estranged motherland, countries offering asylum and the feelings of displacement in between.
At Peter Blum Chelsea, Paci presents combinations of the bitter and the sweet. Three freestanding frescoes, titled Facades, fill the main gallery, each painted on a brick wall propped from behind by wooden beams. While images present views of weddings set in Albania (which Paci fled in 1997 during the Kosovo War), the rough-hewn nature of the exposed structures counterbalances any lighthearted sense of celebration. In an adjoining room, Paci’s 2002 video, Vajtojca (The Weeper), features a sobering staging of the artist’s own funeral, which soon devolves into slapstick.
At Smith-Stewart, Paci’s video Centro di Permanenza Temporanea, named after an Italian refugee camp, takes viewers to a runway in California where a group of people (many of them Mexican) are seen mounting an aircraft stairway. The camera pans out, however, to reveal that there is no plane and that these passengers are stranded, queued up in stunted ascension. Paci focuses on their passive faces: a woman squinting against the sun; a man’s hair blowing in the wind. Meanwhile, other planes are seen in the background, though the travelers’ flight never arrives. Paci’s work reflects his own unsettled history as a displaced person—a situation far from rare in our ever-globalizing world.