SPRING/BREAK BKLYN IMMERSIVE Is a Welcome Relief From Art Fair Frenzy
SPRING/BREAK curators, Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori take their celebrated show to Brooklyn for the first time.
What happens when a small group of artists and curators have roughly one month to prepare for a show, and only 48 hours to hang it?
This was the case at SPRING/BREAK BKLYN IMMERSIVE, the redux edition of this year’s SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Following the success of the fair’s sixth installment this February at 4 Times Square, curators Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori decided to take their vision in a completely new direction, focusing on large-scale public art.
This includes work like Takashi Horisaki’s Social Dress New Orleans – 730 Days After 10 Year After (2017), a latex cast of a shotgun house heavily destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, hung in sections from the ceiling like heavy drapes; and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s installation of Influencing Others (2017). The eerie video, projected high against the wall, shows a female real estate broker hypnotically detailing her steps to financial success, and accompanies a large conference table made of cardboard that rises towards the ceiling at an angle.
The show is a second look (or anti-look) at the previous fair’s “Back Mirror” theme—a sort of mashup between ideas of individual narcissism and dystopic realities of new technologies, and a nod to the science-fiction TV show of the same name—the husband-and-wife duo brought together a mix of SPRING/BREAK regulars and some fresh new faces to fill one massive space with site-specific works and installations.
In keeping with Kelly and Gori’s predilection for exhibiting works in unorthodox environments, the Brooklyn version is housed in the City Point shopping center in Downtown Brooklyn, right in the heart of the borough’s Fulton Mall area. But unlike SPRING/BREAK’s earlier iterations, this is situated in one large, 14,000-square-foot open area, with high ceilings, and no partitions. In fact, each work was left bare, letting the viewer seamlessly move from piece to piece.
This is a distinct break from the myriad of small rooms of art that clearly define not only past SPRING/BREAK shows, but all art fairs in general. The result is the creation of an environment that is more loose and unbarred.
The unconventionality of the set up is likely due in part to the time constraints at hand, but principally because of the scale of each work. In a statement sent to artnet, Andrew Gori confirms:
“Our first foray into a show that could be vertically expansive, and one whose themes we felt had to discuss property, domesticity, and displacement, installations naturally grew architectural. And as they grew architectural, they grew big! This seemed only fitting in the context of the environment for the pop-up, especially considering this spin-off show itself wanted certain distinctions from the SPRING/BREAK show in March—not having salable objects, owning intersecting projects, and sticking to works about space and scale.”
However, in some cases, artists and curators were given news of the event just one month prior to the opening. Due to Creative Time’s gala event taking place in the same space just a few days before, there were only two days to put the exhibition together. What came out of it, however, is a very impressive melange of work that takes on the enormity of its locale and offers great spectacle, in typical SPRING/BREAK fashion.
At the entrance is Anne Spalter’s Ring of Fire (2017), a site-specific atrium installation of 800 unique charcoal drawings covering the wall. Each drawing, with its distinct marking made with an erasure, is a gaping void. Together, they create a beautiful rhythmic collection that documents patterns of gestures. The piece also includes a sound component: an recording of tribal drums inspired by the artist’s visits to French Polynesia.
Upon entering the space, I encountered the sizable installations by Jason Peters and Grace Villamil. Peters’s Sky Diamond (2017), a giant trapezoid of fluorescent lights, hangs precariously over a diamond-shape pool of dark water. Right behind it is Villamil’s piece, Sanctuary City, (2017) a tall tower made from mylar blankets (the ones typically used by refugees to stay warm), a safe space that viewers can enter. The monumentality of these two pieces sets the stage for the works that are both visually stimulating and corporeally engaging.
There’s also Azikiwe Mohammed’s new work Our Futures A Present #1 (2017), which presents projections across multiple screens of found and personal photographs and videos detailing the everyday of African-American culture (the work is accompanied by a CD player playing original recordings of “Wade in the Water,” and other songs made by the artist’s friends and acquaintances).
While most art fairs leave the viewer adrift in a sea of artworks, with the impossible feat of absorbing the entire visual field, SPRING/BREAK BKLYN IMMERSIVE offers the complete opposite, featuring only 12 installations, all quite grand in scale, and very hard to miss. The feeling is quite honestly a bit underwhelming at first, as if is it were an experiential dud for the Frieze-week prepared mind, not to mention that the display of works ad infinitum has notoriously been the modus operandi for SPRING/BREAK up until now.
However, after I found myself finishing my third loop of the expanse, seeing every work more than twice, I realized that I could spend my time looking—there was no rush to experience as much as possible in an hour viewing—it was all there to engage with and digest. I will admit it did take some time to feel comfortable with this, which ironically is something of a weird accomplishment of the show and its curators—making a normal viewing experience feel foreign and exciting.
SPRING/BREAK Art Show will be on view at City Point, 445 Albee Square West, Downtown Brooklyn; May 6–14, 2017.
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