Critics’ Picks

Paul Etienne Lincoln, The Glover’s Repository, 2007–2015, mixed media, 78 x 145 x 20"

Paul Etienne Lincoln, The Glover’s Repository, 2007–2015, mixed media, 78 x 145 x 20"


Paul Etienne Lincoln

Guido Costa Projects
Via Mazzini, 24
November 7, 2015–February 7, 2016

Archival research is often the engine behind Paul Etienne Lincoln’s projects. He customarily works with allegorical devices inspired by a wide range of circumstances usually linked to historical or literary figures. His mechanical installations and sculptures almost always require many years of work to reach their definitive forms. The results of something between anthropological research, physically motivated experimentation, and an exploration of formal concerns, they delineate universal themes, inflected by the contingencies of exemplary figures’ lives.

On the occasion of his fourth solo gallery show, the artist has constructed a mental and geographic map alternately informed by history, literature, and science. Lincoln has chosen twenty-four figures, drawn from three centuries, who have all committed—or been victims of—great betrayals: the Countess of Castiglione, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Irene Adler (a fictional character from a Sherlock Holmes story), and Yuri Gagarin, among others. Each is described in a detailed biographical entry on the wall and by either an original glove owned by the corresponding historical figure, or a replica or creation based on primary sources. The gloves rotate on vertical axes at speeds determined by the life spans of their putative owners. With all its elements together, the large sculpture becomes a “storage closet,” a “warehouse” of ideas, existences, and objects, as the show’s title announces, but also an enormous clock of sorts, activated by a complex mechanism that recounts the peculiarities of each referenced character. The exhibition also resembles a miniaturized planetarium, a sophisticated allegory in which each glove symbolizes a life lived, and where the relationship of its elements’ different velocities—and the dovetailing combination of its moving parts—give rise to unrepeatable circumstances.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.