• Adrian Paci: The Guardians at Stacion CCA Prishtina
Adrian Paci: The Guardians

Adrian Paci: The Guardians
18 November 2015 - 22 January 2016

Opening: 18 November 2015, 20:00

Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina
Zija Prishtina n.n.
10000 Prishtina
Republic of Kosovo

Opening hours
Tuesday - Friday, 11 am - 4 pm.
Saturday, 11 am - 2 pm.

Boxing Club
Mark Isaku n.n.
10000 Prishtina
Republic of Kosovo

Opening hours
Wednesday , 6 pm - 8 pm.

Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina is proud to present “The Guardians”, solo exhibition of the internationally acclaimed Albanian artist Adrian Paci.

The exhibition is part of the annual program of Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, and takes the title of Paci’s film The Guardians’(2015). ‘The Guardians’ placed in present time, context and locations, where the exhibition appears, is intertwined with many layers of content and symbolical meaning.

‘The Guardians’ is a poetic reflection of the relationship between childhood and death. The story takes place in the Catholic cemetery of the artist’s hometown, Shkodra. During Paci’s childhood this old cemetery was not in use any more, but remained the only place in town where religious symbols could still be found, that is after the decision of the then Communist regime to ban all religious symbols as part of the campaign against religion which had peaked in the 1960s. The film draws inspiration from Paci’s childhood memories and the cemetery’s highly paradox character at that time, metaphysical and at the same time intriguingly secular since it had become a popular secret dating place. At the same time the film is triggered by a real event: In 1990 a group of young people decided to enter the cemetery and start clearing it from the dirt and the grass that was growing around the tombs. At the same time with this ‘new life’ of the cemetery, another new phenomenon appeared, that of the “abusive” buildings as the artist describes it. Those who did not own space in the official cemetery started building their own or their families’ tombs in this old Catholic cemetery, creating a kind of chaotic architecture, very typical in general in post-communist Albania. Among the new characters that started populating the cemetery, were groups of children who hung out there and were paid by the owners or relatives to clean and take care of the tombs. “The image of the kids washing the tombs has been working inside myself for quite some time” says Adrian Paci “and I decided to use it in this video”.

The film is characterized by Paci’s lyrical rhythm and poetic sequence maintaining a delicate balance between what is revealed and what it is being insinuated, formally and ideologically.

‘The Guardians’ for the exhibition ‘The Guardians’ by Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina is installed at Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, whereas the second work part of the exhibition, ‘The Encounter’ (2011), is installed at The Boxing Club, an independent platform initiated by Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina in collaboration with Prishtina Jazz Festival, Dam Festival, Skena UP, Kosovo 2.0 dhe CHwB.

The video comes from a performance that took place at Scicli, Sicily on 21 August 2011 where Adrian Paci met several hundred people from all over the world to share with them the gesture of shaking hands. This simple but highly metaphorical gesture will be repeated obsessively, ultimately becoming a ritual: one in which the only thing being celebrated is the gesture itself. The multiplication of an everyday gesture such as that of a handshake – which, by sanctioning an agreement or encounter between two individuals, brings mutual acquaintance and exchanges between people beyond the indecisiveness that precedes them – will determine the union or tension between the artist and the cultural and urban context of the place. The repeated action magnifies the gesture, imbuing it with a significance that is not perceptible in its customary everyday development, and the sign, reiterated as part of a ritual celebrating its unfolding, becomes exclusive by virtue of its separation from the surroundings in which its meaning appears irrevocably unambiguous and an end to itself.

Similarly, the square, the pubic space – the appointed place in which the traits of a community are expressed and developed – is viewed as the privileged place of encounter in which to produce an event that associates the performance with a place powerfully connoted by its traditions.

The Guardians at Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, and for the context where the institution functions, is also important as symbolically the tittle of the work guards the institution for the next exhibition in relation to recent attempts of the present Minister of Culture and Deputy Prime Minister of The Government of Kosovo to close down the space used by the only institution of this kind functioning in Kosovo, and at the same time symbolizes ‘The Encounter’ of a coalition of independent art and culture institutions with similar regressive, ilegal and aggressive policies of the current Acting Director for Culture and her collaborators at the Municipality of Prishtina, expressed through forceful attempts to restrict, control, close down and demolish a building that presents an unique platform of independent art and culture institutions and an important heritage for the city of Prishtina. The building of the Boxing Club was made open and public for the public 12 months ago by a collaboration by Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina and with artist Elana Katz, with the exhibition Action Boxing Club with Elana Katz curated by Albert Heta. ‘The Encounter’ at the Boxing Club will re-open the building and once again make the space open for the public and for the work of artists and independent art and culture institutions.

This is how Lenin in Что делать? (1901, published in 1902) would openly address present political challenges and the context of this exhibition. He would also argue and add that the coordination and collaboration of these individuals, the present Minister of Culture and Deputy Prime-Minister of The Government of Kosovo and current Acting Director for Culture in the Municipality of Prishtina and their collaborating teams and respective institutions have created the worst conditions for contemporary art, freedom of expression and critical thinking in Kosovo and in Prishtina, since the end of the war in 1999.

The good side of the story of that with every challenge new forces and new coalitions are generated, new encounters bring birth to new ideas and more work for guarding freedom and art and which in a democratic state cannot be taken away by ignorance, party politics nor state in hands of private interests.

Adrian Paci: The Guardians at Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtinais generously supported by: sdcon.eu, mama bar berlin, Swiss Diamond Hotel, Hamam Jazz Bar, Municipality of Prishtina, AMM, X-print and DZG