“The concept for The Column was born from this exasperated economic strategy, whereby time must be condensed to the point in which delivery coincides with production… The Column has its roots in a poetic intuition: an idea in search of form will only be able to develop at a distance from its origins, much like commercial goods are increasingly conceived in one place and manufactured in another through the elaborate and methodical exploitation of cheap labour, seen, in this case, on-board ‘sweatshop ships.” – Adrian Paci
Adrian Paci – The Column
Adrian Paci, The column (2013)
Adrian Paci is an Albanian artist from Shkodra who currently lives and works in Milano. From 1987 to 1991 he attended the Akademia e Arteve in Tirana, Albania. He lectured in art history and aesthetics in Shkodër from 1995 until 1997. Trained as a realist painter in the Albanian capital Tirana, Paci started to shoot photos and moving image only in the late 1990s, when Albania underwent a dramatic phase of political turmoil and he emigrated to Milan.
Paci’s position as an exile holds a central place in his oeuvre. His work frequently addresses themes of geographical separation, nostalgia, and memory, and conveys a keen sense of the mutability of life and art. Adrian Paci is known primarily for his work in performance and video, although he explores similar subjects in painting, photography, and sculpture. Characterized by a fluid interplay between performance and body art, his videos frequently focus on quotidian existence and feature members of his own family.
His films respond to collective histories of contemporary humankind. Featuring the people whose stories they tell, they reveal how identity is conditioned by social and economic circumstances. In 1999 Paci was among the first Albanian artists to represent their country at the Venice Biennale.
The Column, a short fim by the Albanian artist Adrian Paci, is the first time we’ve ever been able to bear witness to the entire process. Paci hired a group of Chinese craftsman to complete a full-scale marble classical column on the passage from China to France. The resulting column was delivered directly to Paci’s gallery in Paris, where it was shown alongside the documentary about its creation.
The installation was inspired by a friend Paci’s, who was working on a restoration project and needed a marble sculpture. Paci explains:
Somebody told him that it could be done in China, because they have good marble, good craftsmen, cheap labour, and they can be quick because they can actually do the work while the marble is being transported by boat. It sounded so weird, simultaneously sick and fabulous, something mythological and at the same time in keeping with the capitalistic logic of profit—merging the time of production with the time of transport.
Like all of Paci’s works, The Column deals with migration, uprooting, the repercussions of globalization, and the transformation of cultural identities. At the same time, it addresses the drawbacks of the global flow of goods, ideas, and labor.
The Column is both documentation and cinematic metaphor. The hardness of the marble corresponds to the hardness of the working conditions.