A Perfect World, 2007
conceptual exhibition and room installation, boots, St. Louis / USA

„A Perfect World“ is a conceptual inquiry of holistic systems in relation to one‘s role within that very structure. While researching the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, its overall theme of the „ideal citizen“ and the impact of technological utopias around the turn of the century, Beate found a 1894 diagram by businessman and utopian technocrat King C. Gillette, which outlines the human drift towards a better future. Gillette’s idea of the world as a people‘s corporation and his notion of progress depends on order, organization, intelligence and discipline. Drawn on the wall of the gallery this image becomes the starting point of the installation as it divides the exhibition space in two parts: the „sea of competition for material wealth,“ an unruly, individualist struggle that leads the viewer through a narrow channel of adversity to the „sea of progress,“ where science and the arts make up the key elements of the better world.
Engl questions the humanistic utopia of this idealistic model of evolution when it is combined with strategic intelligence. In „The narrows“ – set amid the two exhibition spaces – a loudspeaker plays a speech from the film „Network“ (1976). Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty as the head of the Union Broad Casting System) intensely indoctrinates the newscaster Howard Beale (Peter Finch) with his world system that is exclusively based on currency: „The world is a business, Mr. Beale.“
During her residency at Boots Contemporary Art Space, Engl documented a performance in a public space. The performers spelled out the words „W-O-R-L-D“ and „O-R-D-E-R“ with grey ponchos attached to each other. They make physically palpable the gap a between connected individuals and the system of world order they are illustrating. Photographs of the performance will be presented in correlation to the installation, challenging the coherences of their striking content and questioning which „sea“ drives a more suitable „world order.“
At the very end of the exhibition space is a small box-like room that functions as a „think tank.“ To enter the room, the viewer simply penetrates one of the many ponchos. By popping ones head through the neck hole, the audience dives into a surreal white cube. The gallery’s ceiling intensified through wall mirrors and the viewer experiences a bodiless installation „only for heads.“ This final intellectual / spiritual retreat opens up the strict order of the world system towards a collective meeting room in which people come face to face or head to head and are forced to interact.
Beate Engl Beate Engl
Beate Engl Beate Engl Beate Engl
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