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About Anton

Baltimore City

Anton Auth's picture
      Anton Auth (b.1992, Annapolis, MD) is a sculpturally-oriented artist living and working in Baltimore, MD.  He received his BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014 and maintains an object oriented sculptural practice that explores the history of humanity’s relationship to the material world.  Inspiration is sourced from city artifact, the machine shop, and the museum to create artworks that serve as transponder between sensible... more

Melding Museum & City

As museums mature, they sometimes become distant from the cities they are situated within. In 2017 I was chosen as the artist in residence at the Evergreen Museum & Library in Baltimore, and after spending some time there one thing stood out…. Evergreen’s geographic and cultural isolation from Baltimore. I chose to challenge the institution by facilitating an exchange of materials and imagery between museum and city.

The museum was built in 1850 and was originally the home of T. Harrison Garrett (founder of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and diplomat) and his family. The theater was built in the early 20th century because Alice Warder Garett (wife of John Work Garret) expressed an interest in acting. She loved the Ballet Russe and in 1920 invited costume designer Leon Bakst to design an original series of stencils for the walls and ceilings of her theater.

To facilitate the exchange between museum and city, I used this historic wall motif by creating a series of enlarged stencils that free the rooster pattern from the museum’s interior and allow it to interact with the surrounding landscape of Baltimore. Using athletic field painting techniques, I applied the stencil to the landscape surrounding the museum to enable the previously cloistered pattern a chance to encounter the physical elements of the city. I collected abandoned dirt bikes, 4-wheelers and scooters during the residency and displayed them in the museum and on the grounds to reciprocate the release of the pattern. The dirt bikes reference Baltimore’s fascination with motor sports. Riders view dirt biking as the ultimate expression of freedom from economically constraining environments found in many of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. Bikes are traded, bought, stolen, sold for parts, scrapped and passed around from person to person. They are truly a commodity here in Baltimore. I had strangers offering me money for them when I was transporting them to the museum. Some viewers regarded the bikes as “threatening” and saw their presence in the museum as symbolic to the reckless “hooligans” in the city. They are spread throughout the museum in an unpredictable fashion to address these perceptions that the bikes, riders, or anyone for that matter, are some sort of invasive species.

Melding Museum & City addresses themes of accessibility and exclusion through the use of institutional archives and potent materials sourced directly from the city. The museum’s surface is turned inside out and lets outside in. Rather than excluding important aspects of society, this binary exchange uses the museum’s platform to question its role in the world as cultural custodian through the phenomenon of material meaning.

FOOSE Designs

FOOSE Designs was brought about in a culture of custom hardware and aftermarket modification. Born in a motorsports machine shop, the series acknowledges the fast paced nature of production, excess of materials in manufacturing and the caffeinated shop humor that keeps people going throughout their work day. It is about active participation in the material world from a maker’s standpoint and finding pleasure in experiencing whats around us. Many of the works are readymade to express an appreciation for things that already exist.

Humans learn about the world around them through sensory experience— indigenous cultures have taught their children about their surroundings from the inside out. Where are the organs in the animals they kill? What plants are dangerous to eat? Which type of rock is the most dense and suitable for tool making? All of these were learned through trial and error. There is innate joy in experiencing objects. FOOSE Designs seeks to explore this.

False Masterpieces

Authenticity is questioned and historical objects are poorly replicated in this series of museum fakes. Quickly made, famous artworks are draped with thin, ‘in progress’ plastic or in some other state of unfinished-ness. Their painted wood, cardboard, kinkos printed images, staples and tape are obscured, causing the viewer to do a double take when they first see the artwork.

Replicating these works of art democratizes the materiality of these historic artworks by acknowledging that anyone can have one if they find the art online in a public database, print it out at the local Kinkos and create a good-enough frame to surround the image. What makes something real? Does believing something is real make it real?

In 2016 I started working as a contracted art handler in Washington DC museums. Seeing works of art behind the scenes and using them to construct an installation like contractors use two by fours is strange. Something you learned about in school text books is suddenly sitting in front of you on a shipping blanket. Authentic works of art are used as the sculptural material in this job. Ive always wanted to bring one home.

Topographical Analysis of a Murder Scene

Topographical Analysis of a Murder Scene is a response to a violent crime I witnessed involving the murder of a 30 year old man outside my apartment in a parking lot. Events like these leave an indelible, invisible mark on the landscape. I am curious about how experiencing violent moments force us to become intimately connected with the location where they occur and how these memories are recorded and stored into the human occupants of the area; even after the fast pace of city life erases the physical evidence we commonly associate with these events.

The performance involves using a razor blade to slash open an above ground pool over the exact location where the victim died 2 months prior. Evoking libation or ablution rituals, the deluge of almost 6000 gallons of water serves as emotional cleanse for the parking lot and a topographical ritual for closure. Humans have long understood water as a purifying element. I watched in horrendous wonder as the fire department was called to hose the victims blood down the storm drain after crime scene investigators were finished analyzing the location.

in Topographical Analysis of a Murder Scene, ritual is enacted and object and environment clash to tell a tragic tale. Loud gushing sounds fill the air with a wave of energy that immediately alerts people to its action. Water flows over the entire crime scene, collecting trash, leaves and other artifacts, and displacing them somewhere else.

Transitional Fixtures

In Transitional Fixtures, collaborative objects are made that reference the improvisational, joke filled culture of making found in a machine shop and the excess of materials that pile up everywhere. There, work holding devices known as fixtures are quickly made to help position things properly and make production easier. Often times when making these fixtures, in the heat of the moment, silly decisions are made and when you look back on them you scratch your head in wonderment.

In the artworks, fruit holding devices are made to stimulate artistic thinking. Intricate stainless steel off-cuts are saved from the scrap yard and get re-imagined as a ritual objects that move the viewer towards active creative participation. The metal is mounted to the wall and the participant adorns it with their weekly fruit groceries, informally decorating, deconstructing, and replenishing the artwork, and activating it by incorporating it into their daily life.

The Coded Landscape

Plush dolls, a fence section, greeting cards, and old radiators. Among these are objects that capture the texture of Baltimore city in the late summer. These artworks are a collaborative effort between objects to reflect the settings from which they came; In a store window, on a street corner or in a forgotten alley. When understood as artifacts, we experience the formal characteristics of peripheral objects we normally would drive by, walk past, or step around.

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