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