ADRIAN PACI | THE GUARDIANS
By Alessandra Stefanini @ale_heloise
The Milan Art Week 2017 is officially on, a lot of events will take place all over the city, with special exhibitions, openings and one of the most important Italian art fairs: MiArt 2017, with a new artistic director, Alessandro Rabottini, right-hand man of the former director Vincenzo de Bellis, who is now Curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
On the first day of this special Milanese week a great event had its opening: Adrian Paci's solo exhibition The Guardians, at the Cloisters of Sant'Eustorgio, a museum center usually dedicated to Milanese Christianity, now thought to host Contemporary Art in a brand new far-reaching project.
The exhibition, curated by Gabi Scardi, includes two sculptures, three photographic compositions and four videos, among which there's Rasha, his latest work: the video shows a Palestinian woman who had recently arrived in Rome from Syria via a humanitarian corridor. Rasha is filmed in close-up as she listens what she has gone through translated in another language by an interpreter; her story is expressed more by her face than by her words.
The exhibition itinerary covers the beautiful Portinari Chapel, the finest Renaissance chapel in Milan, built in Gothic style and frescoed with masterpieces by Vincenzo Foppa. Here are placed Klodi, a video portrait of a man forced to wander for years (like the stories illustrated in the Bouchra Khalili’s Mapping Journey Project), and Brothers, a mosaic based on a fragment of archival footage, an extract of the Paci’s film depicting ceremonies and moments in the everyday life of his home country, Albania.
Adrian Paci's works dialogue with the ancient history of the museum, creating an evocative atmosphere that engages visitors’ feelings: the most captivating room is the Early Christian cemetery, where we can find Malgrado Tutto and The Guardians: the first is composed of four photographs of the graffiti that still covering the cells of an ancient Franciscan monastery, used as a prison by the Enver Hoxka’s regime. These walls are still etched with drawings and words of the Albanian prisoners locked away here, interrogated and tortured.
If these photos immortalize the tragedy of this political situation, the short film The Guardians, instead, shows the seed of hope growing after the dictatorship: paid with few coins, some kids are working hard, taking care of the graves in a Catholic cemetery in Shkodër that was abandoned during that difficult historic period. The children laugh, run, play while they uproot weeds, clean the tombs and dust-off the statues, generating an enthusiastic and chaotic background music in the deathly silence of the graveyard and starting an otherwise impossible conversation between the two most opposite and certain things we know: life and death.
My song in your kitchen, a video documentary filmed for LabExpo (you can watch it here), a side-project of Expo Milan 2015 and the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation; The Encounter, nine pics of the Adrian Paci’s performance in Modica, Sicily, in the 2011; the photographic diptych The line and the life-size sculpture of the artist Home to go, complete the exhibition.
It’s necessary to highlight the perfect way chosen by the artist to symbolize the burden of our identity: a heavy roof on the Adrian Paci’s shoulders. Home to go is a hymn of the human condition, with its complex, layered self, its experiences, its struggles, its constant development triggered by the interactions and the thirst for knowledge that characterize these days.
We must learn how to conciliate our present, with all its uncertainty and its longing for a better future, with the sense of our roots and the richness of our memories that typify our being.
Chiostri di Sant’Eustorgio
Milan, 27 March-25 June 2017