about the exhibition
New Works 06.2
Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger
July 06–September 10, 2006about the artists
Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger’s installations commingle the natural with the synthetic, and link the spontaneous to the storied. Rooted equally in fantasy and allegory, their webs of falling gardens and crystal accretions offer interactive wonderlands. But, as with any good fairly tale, they include a layer of dark undergrowth.
Each site-specific project fuses discarded objects, plant material, chemical-solutions, dreams, and researched miracles into narrative platforms of charmed play. Always alive, their circulatory networks form organisms of mutable organization and value, extending the limits of belief to inspiring or critical ends. Pumping and germinating throughout the exhibition, Steiner & Lenzlinger’s installations spin open-ended fables of consumption, production, transformation, and decay.
Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger live and work in Uster, Switzerland, and have collaborated since 1997. Individual exhibitions include Night Moths in the Whale Belly, Artium, Fukuoka, Japan (2006); Seelenwärmer, Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gallen, Switzerland (2005); and Giardino Calante, 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003). Group exhibitions include ARS ’06, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland (2006); 1st International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, Spain (2004); and Wurzelbehandlung, Rose c’est la vie, National Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel (2004).
about the project
Reflecting Steiner & Lenzlinger’s interest in indigenous, vestigial miracles, Found and Lost Grotto for Saint Antonio re-imagines the legend of San Antonio’s namesake, Saint Anthony of Padua, Catholic patron of lost things. A hermetic cave, erected for the Saint, harbors a city-wide and world-over lost and found, a depot in which memory, worth, and desire are freely exchanged and evolving.
As if encountering a holy space, viewers must circumambulate the white canopy-like cavern and its organic outgrowths of branches before entering shoeless. Inside, an explosion of found refuse, junk, and seemingly random objects constellate in dangling sculptural vignettes. At the source, a recessed botanical sanctum, fertilizer nourishes a gutter-found bible, which, like the installation’s wall-painted lilies, presents a symbol of Saint Anthony. The bountiful pink crystals, engulfing the preacher’s book, suggest both blessing and curse.
Following instructions in the cave, viewers are invited to search the objects and rediscover a forgotten memory. A triggering item may then be claimed and retained as a token of both the recollection and the present grotto experience. However, in this myth, the alchemy of trash is not without payment and takers must offer Saint Anthony a drawn votive of their treasure, hanging it in the object’s place.
Potentially more valuable than the original object, these drawings add to the destabilized status of all objects in the Found and Lost Grotto for Saint Antonio. In the privacy of this hideaway, the lost becomes possibly found, stolen, or purchased. For Steiner & Lenzlinger ownership is akin to biology, a cycle persistent and un-tethered by judgment.
-Kurt Dominick Mueller
Graduate Curatorial Intern