An Aurelian Labyrinth and Other Explications
The South London Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in a London public gallery by New York-based British artist Paul Etienne Lincoln. The exhibition coincides with the publication of An Observatory of Collected Cicerones by Atlas Press, an issue of The Journal of The London Institute of Pataphysics dedicated to the work of Paul Etienne Lincoln.
Lincoln’s work is inspired by historical figures, memory and sensorial perception. Usually realised in elaborate, allegorical installations, it is often produced as the culmination of extensive periods of research, combining the culture, nature and society of specific places. This exhibition introduces the artist’s idiosyncratic output through eight printed Explications, some of which have never been shown before, alongside models of large-scale projects and the film work The Velocity of Thought (2006).
At the heart of Lincoln’s exhibition is an intricate scale model and Explication of a proposal he made in 2006 for a temporary work entitled An Aurelian Labyrinth for the SLG’s Fox Garden. Interweaving elements of local history and ecology with reference to Michael Faraday, baroque music and the Camberwell Beauty butterfly, Lincoln proposed a complex system of music, botany and a mechanical pansy cutter triggered each day by a JS Bach score, its blades creating a labyrinth in a bed of genetically modified pansies.
Due to the nature of Lincoln’s large-scale installations, which are at once emphatically elaborate and fleeting by design, Lincoln uses printed Explications to document and visualise his complicated, yet elusive projects. Panhard Special, 1976-84, for example, is a fully functioning zero-pollution life-size prototype car, designed and built by Lincoln in 1976 in the midst of the first oil crisis - exploring themes of respiration and the relationship between man and machine. The car is depicted in The Velocity of Thought, filmed at the Lingotto racetrack on the roof of the Fiat factory in Turin. Many historical and cultural references resurface in this piece, spanning combustion as a metaphor for life to the indomitable spirit of knowledge, represented here as the prototype climbs the spiral ramps inside the factory building. Accompanying the projected film and Explication are five embroidered racing flags and a vitrine housing a boxed Panhard Special film edition.
Bad Bentheim Schwein (2008-11), is a project to replant over a decade a lost 18th century garden in the Bentheim Forest, Germany. This project, which will be inaugurated on October 1, 2011, has as its centrepiece a mechanical cast pig with the ability to sing or grunt with organ accompaniment. The pig is housed in a miniature folly based on a Ledoux structure, set on an island in the original formal garden. An elaborate system of nine communal savings boxes installed in cafes and bars in the area will fund the planting of oak trees to recreate the wonderful lost garden. The proposal is conveyed in the exhibition through an Explication showing the ‘Schwein’, the mechanical pig, and a scale model of the folly.
Coinciding with the show at the South London Gallery, Atlas Press are publishing an issue of The Journal of The London Institute of Pataphysics dedicated to the work of Paul Etienne Lincoln, copies of which will be available from the gallery bookshop.
Notes to Editors
Paul Etienne Lincoln’s work has been exhibited at museums and galleries internationally including most recently the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Contemporary Art Foundation Grant in 2009. Nine books have been published about his work.
The South London Gallery has an international reputation for its programme of contemporary art exhibitions and live art events, with integrated education projects for children, young people and adults. Exhibitions profile the work of established international figures such as Alfredo Jaar, Rivane Neuenschwander, Tatiana Trouvé and Superflex; as well as that by younger and mid-career British artists such as Eva Rothschild and Ryan Gander. Group shows bring together works by established and lesser known British and international artists. The gallery’s live art and film programme has included presentations by Rachel Gomme, Nathaniel Mellors, Gail Pickering, Gisele Vienne and Charles Atlas.