What with there being museums for everything—and brands behind most of them—the word “immersive” sometimes feels over-extended, misused, manipulated and frankly false. Inside the former Ralph Lauren offices at 625 Madison, SPRING/BREAK Art Show reminded people that the category of immersive art requires respect if it’s from a place of unfettered, unbranded imagination. This particular fair has always been one of the leading risk-takers. In New York City, for its 2020 iteration, themed “In Excess,” the risks paid off.
Traversing the hallways, cubicles and corner offices meant traveling from whimsical wonderlands to technological nightmares. It’s hard to select specific highlights because the fair itself was one. And yet, Jessica Lichtenstein‘s “Do They Make A Sound?” solo exhibit (pictured above), curated by Indira Cesarine, Levan Mindiashvili‘s “Levani’s Room: HOME,” and those that follow below, warrant a mention.
Jen Dwyer’s “Dreamer’s Delight”
Curated by Lauren Hirshfield, ceramicist Jen Dwyer‘s corner-set “Dreamer’s Delight” installation subverts a traditional, opulent and gendered tea party scenario with startling (and humorous) details. As a whole, whimsical porcelain pieces entice—up closer, though, one notices tarot cards, nudes and the telling message, “Stay Soft.”
Azikiwe Mohammed’s “619 W. Pearl St”
Artist Azikiwe Mohammed‘s transportive “619 W. Pearl St” installation weaves sculpture, painting, carpeting and lighting design into an ideological replica of Jackson, Mississippi’s Subway Lounge. From the ’80s to 2004, the venue—in the basement of the Summers Hotel (the city’s first black-owned accommodation)—hosted blues and jazz concerts. The subterranean, pushed-aside nature of the Subway Lounge led Mohammed to address the idea of public versus private spaces for black musicians.
Michael A. Robinson’s “The Origin of Ideas”
Part of curator Tansy Xiao‘s “The Infinite Gyre” installation, Michael A Robinson‘s mesmerizing, large-scale sculptural work “The Origin of Ideas” (2013) literally illuminated all who passed. The orb of light, composed of found lamps, and its tangle of cords offer a haunting portrait of technology, accumulation and spectatorship.
Super Future Kid’s “Two for me, None for you”
With 2,450 pounds of salt on the floor, hand-sewn beanbag chairs, a foot bridge over hot pink “waters” and a rainbow of colors on the walls, stepping into Super Future Kid‘s “Two for me, None for you”—beyond a gingerbread house—feels much like entering an animated movie of the Candy Land game. Inspired by the medieval fairytale The Land of Cockaigne, the installation—from curator Ché Morales and Miami-based Mindy Solomon Gallery—asked visitors to enjoy themselves, and it succeeded.
Bobby Anspach’s “Place for Continuous Eye Contact”
It’s all in the title of Bobby Anspach’s “Place for Continuous Eye Contact” (2020). The multicolored LED-domed artwork invites visitors to lie down and make continuous, direct eye contact with themselves in a small mirror, for the duration of a song. From concept to execution, the installation—curated by BRIC and Elizabeth Ferrer—succeeds in an immersive, meditative and excessive experience.
Hero image of Jessica Lichtenstein’s “Do They Make A Sound?” by David Graver