The Ringmaster performing Rigby & Peller, Duane Park, New York City, 2022

Paul Etienne Lincoln

5 November 2022 - 10 February 2023

The World and Its Inhabitants was first conceived as a miniature circus, a salon divertissement. It is a very intimate, ritualistic form of eighteenth-century parlor activity; an elaborate meal was prepared for around seven guests, with small electrically operated characters presented between courses to aid digestion and invigorate the intellect.
The Ringmaster, passing a substantial current through his body, would activate the characters. The electricity passed through a specially made lead shoe, sensitizing the Copper Governor, which would glide to-and-fro across a lead arc. At a desired moment, the Ringmaster, using specially prepared Flagellum, would transfix the Governor’s movement; instantly, a chosen character would perform its life in three minutes of unrestrained splendor.
The World began with the births of Nextus II (an Ur-figure, akin to Adam), Lucus, Selisious, Gutstus, and now numbers some fifty figures. The characters vary greatly, but all were drawn from three hundred years of history and from all walks of life.
The Copper Governor has a familiar, a facsimile of the counterbalances of John Harrison’s famous H1 marine chronometer. This crafted clock is now used as a method to determine the latitude and longitude of each new character and precisely meter three minutes of energy to each.
On show at Guido Costa Projects are twenty new figures, mostly diminutive (like clockmaker’s contrivances), based on historical figures, and displayed in illuminated vitrines: immobile relics of past soirees, each only performing once. This ensemble, now in its fifth decade of development, continues.
Two new pigment prints will depict the twenty-four characters who inhabited the first World (1980–95) and the second cohort (1996–2022), many shown for the first time.
Two vitrines will house the original mask and accoutrements from the World’s first performance, the Ringmaster’s costume, and the machinery from the initial performances

Opening 5th November 2022, 8pm.