The World and its Inhabitants
March 11 - April 22, 2000
On March 11, an exhibition of Paul Etienne Lincoln's ongoing series, "The World and its Inhabitants" will open at the Christine Burgin Gallery in Chelsea. Begun in 1981, Lincoln's idealized "world" is inhabited by 24 characters so far, small mechanized creatures representing a variety of historical personalities. There is Mistinguett, the infamous French performer who, when activated by the artist, does a veil dance while drawing from her breast the lyrics to "Je Cherche Un Millionaire." Or Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocket science, who is represented by a small rocket built of a pneumatic piano scroll.
As described by Paul Etienne Lincoln, "'The World and Its Inhabitants' was first conceived as a miniature circus, a salon divertissement. It was always intended as a very intimate, ritualistic form of 18th Century parlor activity, an elaborate meal was prepared for perhaps seven guests, with small electrically operated characters presented between courses to aid digestion and invigorate the intellect. The characters would be activated by a Ringmaster passing a substantial current through his body... At this point the chosen character would perform its life in three minutes of unrestrained splendor. The choice of characters varies, all were drawn from three hundred years of history, and from all walks of life."
The original costume of the Ringmaster will also be on view, along with his Globexpander and other artifacts. Lincoln has also recreated John Harrison's famous H1 maritime chronometer to measure with precision the three minutes of performed life accorded each character.
A simultaneous exhibition of a new work by Paul Etienne Lincoln entitled "Ignisfatuus" will take place at Alexander and Bonin, New York. Originally created for a Victorian greenhouse in Baltimore, "Ignisfatuus" is an investigation into the mechanisms of memory inspired by early acoustical recordings of the late soprano Rosa Ponselle. A book to accompany this work has been published by Christine Burgin.
These two shows will be Lincoln's first exhibitions in New York since the1991 exhibition of his work "A Tribute to Madame de Pompadour and the Court of Louis XV". This elaborate machine run by snails and bees produces, when operational, the perfume of Madame de Pompadour and honey. Lincoln's work is also included in the current exhibition at P.S.1, "Greater New York" (February 27-mid April).
Paul Etienne Lincoln
The World and its Inhabitants, 2000
Installation views, Christine Burgin Gallery, New York