SPRING/BREAK Probes Deep Into Our Techno-Creepy Culture
The third iteration of the SPRING/BREAK Art Show once again inhabits the Old School, a four-story schoolhouse at 233 Mott Street. Featuring 39 curators and works by more than 100 artists, the show has expanded so much that new rooms had to be opened to accommodate its size. Some of those are old convent rooms that have not been seen in over a decade (and yes, they are kind of creepy).
The curator-driven art fair focuses this year on the theme PUBLICPRIVATE, or the 21st century’s extreme visibility of self and how technology allows us all to be curators—of our own über-constructed identities via the social network, that is. Pervasive phenomena like selfie culture, social media bragging, and internet memes are put under a microscope in a way that hits alarmingly close to home. The experience of trying to capture and Instagram a video of people trying to capture (and possibly Instagram) things certainly quelled any doubts I may have held about the presence of this behavior in myself.
Among works that truly speak to this theme is Bruno Pogacnik’s Powercave 3. The installation, which occupies a small room, looks intimidating and almost like something you maybe shouldn’t enter, until you do. Once inside, the experience is akin to being in a closet in which the Internet threw up. It’s abrasively shiny and full of strange, meme-worthy bric-a-brac like plastic eyeballs and glowsticks. The floor is covered in packing peanuts what appears to be Silly String. It takes a moment before you notice the television screens, which via hidden surveillance cameras, feature you on them. Very Internet, indeed.
Despite the spectacle and memorability of several large, interactive works, some of the most successful pieces at the show are the most superficially simple. Chris Bors’ Jerry Saltz is both a savvy wisecrack about the social network’s ability to inflate egos and a highly sharable nugget of “have you seen yet?” gold.
Overall, it’s a fun show that manages to be thought-provoking without taking itself too seriously. It’s worth a visit if you want to hang with the downtown, cool-kid crowd and definitely a must-see if you want to explore the stranglehold that our culture of overshare has on your brain.
Finally, a pro tip: be on the lookout for works housed in both bathrooms. Several people thought a feminine-product dispenser in the second floor women’s room was sprouting white hair. You’ll see what I mean.
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