Exploring a Huge, Glowing, Immersive Warehouse Experience at Frieze Week
The alternative art fair SPRING/BREAK descends upon Brooklyn.
Sky Diamond, Jason Peters, 2017. Photos by Andrew Nunes, courtesy of the artists.
Expanding outside of their normal Armory Week programming (which was fantastic in its own right), SPRING/BREAK created BKLYN IMMERSIVE, an entirely new iteration of its art show spectacular, for this year's New York Freeze Week. As the quite straightforward name suggests, BKLYN IMMERSIVE consisted of a series of immersive artworks and installations housed in a large warehouse space at Downtown Brooklyn's brand new City Point mixed-use retail, residential, and office space.
Different than their Armory Week fair, this project by SPRING/BREAK founders Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly focused more on creating large experiential zones rather than booth-style showcases divided by walls. In fact, the space effectively had no walls beyond the pseudo-enclosures of Takashi Horisaki's Social Dress New Orleans, a latex cast of the remnants of a house ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and Grace Villamil's Sanctuary City, an isolated, multimedia experience inside of a cavernous structure made of Mylar. The mostly open-air setup lent a sense of inter-connectivity to the event, an invitation to allow these highly disparate artworks to flow into one another.
Despite the openness of the space, the show was setup in a way that two artworks were sequentially encountered by the viewer before all others. 160 charcoal drawings by Anne Spalter were tiled along the entrance of the space, acting as an "analog representation of rhythmic tribal drums" derived from a French Polynesian fire dance the artist encountered. Upon stepping inside, quantity gave way to sheer size in Jason Peter's Sky Diamond sculpture in the frontal center of the space. This huge, illuminated, geometric sculpture extended from the ceiling to the floor, where it was supported by a reflective pool that further amplified the visual spectacle.
After these works, the navigation of the space was relatively freeform, allowing for many different journeys into varied aesthetic encounters. Some of the works followed Sky Diamond's use of stark visual spectacle to draw the viewer in, like Lux Aeterna by Adela Andea, a fantastical arrangement of freeform neon lights and thinly sliced swimming pool noodles. Influencing Others by artist couple Jennifer and Kevin McCoy was another example, a two-part installation consisting of an oversized, slanted conference table leading up to a huge video projection of an eerily smiling woman robotically reciting comments like, "Influencing other isn't luck or magic—it's science," while floating through a luxury Trump Tower condo.
Other works and installations were less immediately grabbing, but rewarded close looks. Azikiwe Mohammed transformed a large, but dimly lit section of the space into an "African-American park" in For Our Futures A Present #1, replete with fake grass, floral bouquets, and a series of photo and video projections on the walls sourced from both the artist's familial archives and by other members of the black community. Entre Nosotros (Between Us) Variation I by Lionel Cruet is another dark space enlivened by projection, consisting of scattered beach sand, a stranded rowboat, and composite projections of inverted sunsets and crashing waves.
BKLYN IMMERSIVE also marked the artistic debut of MATERIAL GIRLS, an all female-identifying artist collective. The seven artists continued their Madonna puns with MATERIAL WORLD, a series of sculptural and video installations in more discrete sizes than most of the other works on view in the space. Many of the works seemed like futuristic renditions of luxury furniture, like Hilliary Gabryel's Fallen Portico, a mirror-vase-awning fusion covered in orange faux fur, and Gracelee Lawrence's Summerhead, a pink epoxy fountain. Other works seemed to serve more deliberate functions, like Devra Freelander's Venusian Alpenglow, a neon epoxy puddle so vividly orange to the point of being impossible to accurately render on a camera phone (an important motivation behind the work, fellow collective member Maggie Grymes tells me).
Exploring all of these works on view felt neither like an art fair nor like a white-cube exhibition. The expansiveness of the space and the experiential emphasis made it more like an art amusement park of sorts, the spectacle of which was honestly refreshing in the aftermath of the mostly placid showings of Frieze Week.
More information about the recently concluded BKLYN IMMERSIVE by SPRING/BREAK can be found on their website.