Adrian Paci b. 1969, Shkodër, Albania
Color 35 mm film, with sound, 6 min., 53 sec.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, with additional funds from Geoffrey Fontaigne and Eugene Sadovoy, 2007
Many of Adrian Paci's works have explored the particular sense of dislocation and rootlessness that characterize the immigrant experience, reflecting his own personal history as a refugee who fled his native Albania for Italy in 1997. Per Speculum (2006) is more universal in theme, offering an allegory for the nature of perception. The film begins with views of children inhabiting a timeless, pastoral Arcadia. As the camera zooms out to reveal that we are in fact looking at a reflection in a large mirror planted in the landscape, the idyllic scene is ruptured when one of the children shatters the mirror with a slingshot. In the film's second half, the children occupy the branches of a giant tree and use fragments of the broken mirror to reflect the sunlight so that the tree appears to magically sparkle. The work's title alludes to the famous passage in St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (“For now we see as through a glass, darkly . . . ”), which addresses our imperfect and limited vision of reality. While Paci invokes the deception of the senses—and by extension, of mimetic representation, including film—his departing image of the illuminated tree seems to nevertheless hold out the possibility of some form of transcendence, however illusory.