Our Favorite Rooms at the 2017 Spring Break Art Show

Spring/Break is one of the Armory Week attractions I try not to miss, it unapologetically has fun with art – blocking out the cynical in favor of its dialogue driven exhibits.  This year it moved out of the Moynihan Station Post Office and into swankier digs in Times Square.  What didn’t change – is the integrity of the show, the feeling of being sent off to the races into the all encompassing line of rooms. The rooms can be a showdown of hit-or-miss aesthetics, but it affords the artist space to create a story, and that discovery is always worth the price of admission.

This year, the annual curator-driven art show, Spring/Break chose Black Mirror as its theme.   Here’s a list of the rooms we loved walking thru.

 

Hometown Hero (Chink) /Thinly Worn | Valery Jung Estabrook

I shudder to think that I almost walked past this room without meeting Valery Jung Estabrook 

Hometown Hero (Chink) featured an installation of three parts: a single channel video, a custom upholstered recliner, and a fabric-covered room furnished with other upholstered items that immediately transport you to a version of the American South. The items reveal hidden personal histories that cling to Jung’s experiences growing up a mixed-race Korean American who was taught to revere a past to which she felt no connection.

The recliner – with its looming imagery of the Confederate flag, dominates the space. It sits facing the television, acting as a physical stand-in for the [cheap] desire to return to an idealized fictional version of America – the wish to “Make America Great Again.”  Everything in that room is in direct opposition of Jung Estabrook’s honest conversations regarding race, alienation, and assimilation playing on the television with a repeating video clip featuring segments called Twinkie, Wasp and assimilation that features Jung Estabrook lip syncing while dressed as Tammi Wynette.

 

“Thinking about everything, but then again, I was thinking about nothing” | Tamara Santibanez

Tamara Santibanez recreates her adolescent bedroom in shades of white symbolizing the purity of memories we wish to retain. Her pen drawings of rock band posters and t-shirts hang among the other trappings of a certain youth – cassettes, AM/FM radio, vinyl’s, studded leather wrist bands and jeans tossed casually on the carpet make for a trip I didn’t want to end.

Sophiya Khwaja | Cade Tompkins Projects

Sophiya Khawaja‘s hoops sans the cloth and thread that traditionally sit between the two wooden circles, showcase images of herself, a solitary female figure trapped – possessing – raging and navigating the landscapes she inhabits. Each become a symbol of the female encased in the intricate bindings of the world around her.

“Melissa Godoy-Nieto: Dream Journal,” curated by Ambre and Andrew Gori

Visitors were invited to share their dreams with Godoy-Nieto so she could translate them into drawings.  If you took part in the project, I hear you might be able to find your dreams roaming wild & free on Melissa’s website.

Sisyphus | Light Sculpture | Valerie Sullivan Fuchs

Sisyphus, 2009, is a palm sized video projection where the viewers capture the video onto their open hands. The video is of a woman who appears to climb up the viewer’s hand but slides back down repeatedly. Each time she slides back down, she draws a line of chalk which appears to mix with the lines of the view’s palm.

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Further Explanations into Contemporary Blackness : New Work From Azikiwe Mohammed 
Azikwe Mohammad travels from last year’s Jimmy Thrift Store, a project based around New Davonhaime, a fictional town whose name is a make up of the five cities with the highest African-American populations (Detroit, Savannah,  Jackson, Birmingham, and New Orleans).  Mohammad filled the room with thrift shops finds (elaborate chintzy lamps, old albums, neon signs and ceramic figurines) cast offs ready to breathe new life into old lives.  Assuming the personality of Jimmy, Mohammad told us colorful stories of the non-existent town until it felt relevant, until we felt like we’d benefit from visiting.
This year Mohammad was back in a less structured space with more stories to tell, a memorial to those we lost this past year in violence, a closer look into the lives of those from Davonhaime. Names and faces were memorialized on airbrushed t-shirts and iconic jewelry found in nearly every African-American home. Photographs from his visit to the cities were rolled up and placed in containers for those who felt like delving a bit deeper.
It was as if last years’ search for stories was a mere beginning into the insight into the crux of the stories he evokes through memory and representation. I remember when Mohammed had a seat out in the hallway of the first Spring Break Fair, patiently explaining his hip-hop tapestries to us.  Each year his exploration into African American iconography gets deeper and more creatively explorative.

CHECKING OUT THAT SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW VIBE

This year, the annual curator-driven art show, Spring/Break chose Transaction as its theme.  That was executed sweetly during the press conference when co-founders Ambre Kelly & Andrew Gori got married at the top of the stairs in a endearingly funny ceremony, where the bride took a phone call in the middle of her vows, directing a wine distributor to the loading dock of their after party location.

Spring/Break is one of the Armory Week attractions I try not to miss, it unapologetically has fun with art – blocking out the cynical in favor of its ‘Look at what I did Ma’ art school vibe.  This year it moved out of the Old School on Mott Street in Nolita (making way for a depressing condo development), to the Moynihan Station.  The new space retained that feeling of being sent off to the races – with a familiar three-floor execution of exhibits – room after room of romping and art browsing.  The rooms can be a showdown of hit-or-miss aesthetics, but I continue to enjoy the discovery beyond each door.

Here’s a list of the rooms we loved walking thru.

Free ft. Oliver Jeffers curated by Marc Azoulay

We caught artist Olivers Jeffers in the midst of his dipping performance.  Jeffers and his assistants fill a custom built box with gallons of colored paint – the painting is then submerged and lifted out. It’s positioned over a thick sheet of paper impregnated with Jeffer’s handwritten words – excerpts from the sitters interview – these too disappear beneath the spread of the paint.  An esthetically pleasing yet haunting reminder that words too like images can be a fading memory.

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Oliver Jeffers, Dipped Painting Performance

 

Bazaar Teens curated by Dustin Yellin

I found Dustin Yellin nailing stale bread to a wall in a dank and musty room that carried nauseating smells of dirt, and coffee. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders when I asked him what was going on. “Go in and find out,” he said.  I went through the maze of rooms taking it all in, and laughing to myself at the reactions of the other onlookers.  After stepping outside into the hallway, I googled it, reading quickly as I navigated the space a second time. Apparently, Yellin shredded ten grand from an anonymous donor.  The shredded money I saw being collaged onto canvases painted the shade of poop by artists clad in white plastic jumpsuits were going to be sold for ten grand a pop and the money used to send artists in need to school. I wondered if it was all a stunt, who would buy them, and praytell whose bright idea it was to paint canvases the shade of crap.

I don’t care what it was supposed to mean – I had fun nailing bread to the wall with Yellin and watching the mayhem ensue.

 

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Bazaar Teens installation, curated by Dustin Yellin

The Dead People Dead Flowers / Anne Nowak curated by Cassandra M. Johnson

Nowak collects dead flowers from graveyards and makes cyanoprints  – breathing new life into the flowers, she gives the sentiments of the living more time for the ones passed on.

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Installation by Anne Nowak, curated by Cassandra M. Johnson

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Installation by Anne Nowak, curated by Cassandra M. Johnson

Mail Art by Riitta Ikonen, curated by Yulia Topchiy

Over the past 11  years, Riitta Ikonen has been sending her grad school professor postcards constructed from a wide range of materials.  This visual diary of tangible objects defies what you think can be posted through the mail system.  They’re not an ordinary range of objects, but a thoughtful documentation of materials that reference the specifics of her time and locale.

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Mail art by Riitta Ikonen, curated by Yulia Topchiy

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Mail art by Riitta Ikonen, curated by Yulia Topchiy

 

Greed is Good / Fall on Your Sword curated by Andrew Gori & Ambre Kelly

Greed Is Good is an ‘immersive audio/visual wizard of oz-like spectacle of flying Champagne bottles, a giant sphere, original FOYS score and video’ based on Gordon Gecko’s speeches in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film, Wall Street.

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Fall On Your Sword, “Greed Is Good,” curated by Andrew Gori & Ambre Kelly

 

After the Fire is Gone Installation by Cate Giordano, curated by Eve Sussman & Simon Lee

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Installation by Cate Giordano, curated by Eve Sussman & Simon Lee

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Installation by Cate Giordano, curated by Eve Sussman & Simon Lee

Form & Formlessness: Objects and the Body curated by Peter Gynd

Taezoo Park

Installation by Taezoo Park, curated by Peter Gynd

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Installation by Taezoo Park, curated by Peter Gynd

Annulus curated by Corey Oberlander and Lindsey Stapleton

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Leah Piepgras under Cloud Mantle, curated by Corey Oberlander & Lindsey Stapleton

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Leah Piepgras _Cloud Mantles, curated by Corey Oberlander & Lindsey Stapleton

Christine Sciulli’s “Propulsion Field 4022″ light installation, curated by Tracy Causey Jeffrey

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Christine Sciulli’s “Propulsion Field 4022″ light installation, curated by Tracy Causey Jeffrey