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Review of SPRING/BREAK "FACT AND FICTION," March 2019

By D. RASHAAN KING, April 2019

SPRING/BREAK Art Show, 8th Annual Show

FACT AND FICTION, March 5th - 11th, 2019

866 United Nations Plaza

Spring/ Break moved from its former conversation at Condé Nast.  It exploded from the domain of a publishing house in Times Square to the UN Plaza.  At the same time, a new crisis was storming up in Burkina Faso.  The art fair was far ahead of the general discourse taking place during Armory Week.  Very theoretical ideas appeared around the same time as the fair’s opening and a new humanitarian crisis popped out of nowhere.  

 

Image Courtesy of Stella Zhong via Bushwick Daily

At the immediate entrance of the fair, an artist placed an installation in the context of people having to uproot themselves from their homes.  Empty City, A Solo Exhibition by Stella Zhong, Curated by Wai Ying Zhao, was a physical representation of not only truth, but also the communicative power of art.  Yet, the installation still remained somewhat vague about the idea people may have about what makes them happy.  Baffled by all of this, one can ask where Zhong received the idea to exert control over simple elements.  Many things were dramatized, given that Burkina Faso is now in turmoil.  Human beings have not only befouled the environment and natural elements, but the show now reflects the humor of thinking of Condé Nast next to Zhong’s work.  The artist’s blatant decision not to include human beings was an allusion to how buildings will very much outlast their owners.  “On Zhong’s man made world, human is decisively left out.  Instead, nondescript objects take the role of the protagonist.  It is through this distancing that Zhong demands us to question our place in a r reality that we believe in.  These sculptures are playgrounds, the videos are cartoons.”  Innocence in the work evokes being from a South American family and attending a private all boys school on the Upper West Side.  Like a scene from Gossip Girl, you are part of the group that forms the Brooklyn crew.  Somehow everything changes when you learn that you are walking down the hallway with the same group as Anna Wintour’s son, just as you were with your friends.  Who is the Head Editor of American Vogue.  What?  The luxury that the magazine embodies is deliberately absent from the Empty City.  This juxtaposition reveals that the truth is actually very elusive: “Without directly responding to any political or social events, the works are a daring reminder of the malleable nature of truth and the multiplicity of realities, and further, the ingenuousness and simplicity at the core of human or non-human relations.”

Artists Anne Barlinckhoff, Hiba Schahbaz, Katya Zvereva – Artwork featured in “EDEN” Special Project at SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW, Image Courtesy of Untitled Space 

Here at this art fair, an “immersive installation and group exhibition that investigates the history, symbolism, and cultural impact of the Garden of Eden from a feminist perspective.” It was presented by curator Indira Cesarine, and, if she sought out to present a rare opportunity to have a quiet, very self-aware moment, she did it in a brilliant way.  Cesarine presented an art show that was a statement about women who no longer wanted to play their way into a rich family.  Knowing that life is filled with difficulties and untruths, these artists fought back against the expectations that certain things cannot be done by women.  In a rather deconstructive manner, they traced the roots of common suffering and sought to liberate themselves from their constraints.  The garden was “ripe with conceptual works by female artists across all mediums that explore the myth of Eden, the roles of Adam and Eve, the concept of original sin, of sexual temptation, and the religious belief system that as a result of Eve’s actions, women for all eternity must pay for her sins with he pain of childbearing and subservience to man.”  Imagine actually standing in the elevator with the son of a leading women’s fashion magazine.  These women were once considered lambs, but it is no longer plausible to hold them to the same roles.  By means of art,  these female artists repositioned the traditional means of expression.  Self-expression can be more than hearing a richer teenager say that you cannot afford his Dolce & Gabbana suit.  It would be heart crushing, without knowledge of the rampant stereotypes of European private school culture featured in classic movies, like “If….”  Soon the elevator door opens and that moment passes by.  However, only through divorce could women ever afford anything such as that suit.  They can no longer be negligent of nationalism, racial identification, and ethnic identification.  Regardless of whether these connections are real or not, for centuries, “the root of misogyny in patriarchal societies…has resulted in women being subjected to discrimination and ‘justified’ inequality for thousands of years.”  Imagine mocking that with Anna Wintour’s son.  

 

Not Regarded as a Distinct Category (Despite Mandatory ( And Compulsive) Engagement) at SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW, Image Courtesy of the Artist Leif Low-Beer

Moving on to the another booth at the fair : Not Regarded as a Distinct Category (Despite Mandatory ( And Compulsive) Engagement) is certainly not a short title.  The artists made an allegory to the act of opening a computer desktop to view all of the applications open.  As you would see a wide open screen, so do many images cover the entire space available.  Archiving ideas and information is essentially the act of adding more to the foundation and base, from which human knowledge comes.  The artists new form of inversion, mimics Condé Nast's change from being a tight publication to a more open platform.  Audience members get a base education into what artists see when they look at the  unique elements which radiate off of the surfaces of masterpieces.  In totality, this show makes it possible for artists to display truth: “…familiar objects become part of an imagined world that hovers between desire and rejection, art and consumption, legible and illegible.”  Creation obviously starts with the rejection of mainstream culture.  Art, although it is comes from untouchable space that is shaped by the things that you see in daily life, drives human actions and how you think of ways to achieve the world that they occupy.  However, life could never be that simple without more hard work.  Explanations are not supposed facts that urban life is based upon.  Indeed, there appears to be more “(suggestions to) alternate dimensions and new frontiers of action.  Drawing on America’s rugged individualism, exploration, and conquest, (Matthew) King’s interventions expose the mythologies that inform these tropes, subjecting their ‘truth’ to question,” despite the high degree of sophistication present.  If you read a few issues of Vogue, despite the bad news you have heard about Anna Wintour, this point of juxtaposition makes it possible for the critical mind to consider how artistic objects can be useful to analyze the crisis in Burkina Faso.  The viewer has to navigate how the women of Vogue, in some way, are curious about where Americans are both wrong and where there was a vague element of truth.

Alison Jackson, Trump KKK. 2016. Featured in the exhibition “Mental Images x Alison Jackson,” Curated by Indira Cesarine. Image courtesy of Yahoo News.

Curated by Indira Cesarine, “Mental Images x Alison Jackson” was a sad exercise in viewing all forms of political scandals as if they were truths.  The image above hints to the scandals that surround the current White House.   It identifies a new age of American politics that was brought on by JFK’s assassination.  Whether it be true, or fiction, you may have once shared a private and intimate moment with Wintour’s daughter when your school’s campus was quiet.  So many concerns can be raised now with false stories circulating as news, and it also allows you question if this is all disingenuous?  Many are afraid to make the statements that need to be made.  Yet here Jackson proposing an “entirely fathomable projection of a future that could have been.”  Or is it actually the surprise of looking an infamous woman in the eye that affirms then shaky self-esteem.  Alison Jackson’s words bear a significant impact.  Jackson takes the malleable celebrity image and turns it into a thirst.  Celebrities were once the emblem of how unnatural it is to enforce human administration over something.  However the case, the situation is “(a) whole projective process…further exaggerated by our capacity for fantasy and the inherently titilating nature of the image of a celebrity like Marilyn in flagrante.  In this way, (Jackson’s) productions, charged with desire, have become more real than the real life model they are based on, evolving into a ‘mental image’ rather than a direct record of reality….”  It is all part of cycle that consumes the individuality of a person for them to questioned.  The idea of having an image leads people to commit blatant crimes, whereas sharing one moment with a young woman, who was far from the average person, breaks some of the concerns.

Installation View of Shona McAndrew Curated by Laurne Powell at Spring/ Break 2019. Photo by Samuel Morgan Photography. Courtesy of Spring/ Break via Artsy.

Do you know how to “treat” other people well?  “Someone Last Night,” curated by Lauren Powell, was a circumstance where the artist Shona McAndrew questioned the way that people operate.  She interfered and exposed a moment when people are in their most vulnerable.  It is a most prized thing, but the unwanted invades the sacred space.  The installation was an opportunity to see how privacy can become a moment worse than what the viewers of her exhibitions think it is.  “Often life-size or slightly larger, her sculptures draw from personal experience and observation to call attention to the simultaneous banality and importance of fleeting, introspective, honest and vulnerable moments.”  McAndrews replicated the things that are probably in your own room right now.  What efforts have been made to examine when artwork reflected the real life time events in Burkina Faso?  Meanwhile, in a country such as Burkina, the determination of women is challenged.  McAndrew is someone who could not be on the cover of Vogue, unable to have the same features of their covergirl’s bodies.  This can be improved.  Obesity is rising in overdeveloped countries, while people in Burkina Faso are more concerned with finding a place to rest.  The skinny debate is just as bad because of the negative feeling that you can have about your body.  Somehow this relates to architectural theory.  It is indeed the same size as a real room which anyone could occupy.  McAndrews is seemingly unaware and unconcerned about the viewer’s criticism.  “…Shona’s women ask us to valorize activities of body exploration, self care, and forgetting to see oneself through the critical eyes of others.”  Intimate of spaces have become charged throughout art history on the basis of nudity.  “ The room feels like a memory, every object and sculpture tinged with McAndrew’s surface, texture, and aesthetic.”  It is almost like a curriculum of how to focus on world issues, but it might appear as if only bad students are in the classroom.

 

Rachel Lee Hovnanian’s “Taped Shut,” 2019, curated by Jenny Mushkin Goldman and Jessica Davidson, at Spring/Break Art Show 2019. KATHERINE MCMAHON/ARTNEWS

Rachel Lee Hovnanian’s work is a a clear delegation of allocating resources to a good cause.  She advocated that people should choicely use theirs to represent those who are unspoken across the globe.  It is not uncommon for artists to talk about a serious issue?  Hovnanian had the ability to simplify the complexity of the situation “…in which censorship can result in emotional and psychological turmoil for its victims and witnesses.”  Human beings have been able to achieve a lot, regardless of the amount of time.  She used “feather-coated tape strips, (to represent) the silencing power of institutional forces that prevent difficult truths from being dispersed.”  The artist made the installation immersive by asking people to also tape their mouths shut.  “Our reluctance to speak our truths can stem from the feat of being scrutinized, not believed, or even villainized, which has led countless people to remain silent.”  This phenomenon explores when people are contradicted, when they become evidence of their own violation.  Dogma is so strong that everyone in attendance is part of a group of contrasted human beings.  The installation makes it possible for Hovnanian to address the countless individuals that have been silenced by societal pressures.  It has become fashionable to divide people, making it possible for life in megacities to be too variegated.  “…The dichotomy between our intrinsic value systems and our public selves…” describes how natural it is for human beings to be both silent and proactive at the same time.

Anne Spalter: Down is Up Curated by Francesca Franco Courtesy of molly krause communications

Anne Spalter firmly proves that artists can be more active than they were in past years.  Although the scale of Spring/ Break has been reduced, Spalter was able to directly criticize the way in which people see these current events.  Just as mockery happens, people in Burkina Faso were forced to flee home.  This is made possible by the current world that frustrates.  The montage of historic symbolism reached a new height for Spalter.  She made objects “packed with iconography, and symbolism, in what collectively becomes a sort of parallel universe with visual cues.…”  Her adjustments to the steps of art production were so strong that the voyeur cannot stop reviewing her work.  “A tangible representation of Carl Jung’s writings, the resultant artworks contrast simple, analog truths with elaborate, digital manipulations.”  Technology allows Splater to reach people regardless of the consequences.  Urban living has no base anymore.  The field of the brain, dreams, nightmares, and neurological processes take on new forms that these metaphysicians are now recognizing.  On the verge of a breakthrough, her installation was a “vivid snapshot of today’s collective social insecurities and anxieties.”  Spalter’s analysis touches on the need for escapism felt by large parts of society in the current, a space pined for by so many people. 

TV Guide Installation View Courtesy of Jennifer Dalton. Via Instagram

Tv Guide, curated by Jennifer Dalton, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, brought in a group of artists including the curators themselves.  Artists Jennifer Dalton, Anthony Discenza, Angela Dufresne, Oasa DuVerney, Wellington Fan, Anthony Goicolea, Karen Heagle, Karen Marston, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Alex McQuilkin, David Opdyke, Wiliam Powhida, Peter Rostovsky sought a new way to tackle the growing problems with television.  Since its inception, television has indeed made new advancements.  It is between the lines of truth and fiction.  So say the artists who work with the media, and subject, to reach their viewers.  It is hard as a teenager, or younger person, not to grow up being influenced by what you see on the screen.  Everyone has redefined their lives after seeing the images of tv shows and movies.  Learning how to filter topics is somehow a part of this process.  Television is much more than just what you see on a screen.  “…artworks’ self-conscious of style deepen our knowledge of the media landscape we inhabit, trapping meaning between the real and the fabricated, between the invention and the riff.”  The artwork appears in the journalistic format but these artists are making a stronger attempt to “(push art) to the foreground.”  It is difficult to critique Contemporary media, which has gone array.  Producers were making headway before whatever it is that Hollwood had become : “so we delight not only in knowing the reference, but in seeing entire categories of beloved media squeezed, morphed, and condensed into something—far from industrial media—made person and original once more.”  All of this takes place in the trivial mode, a necessity for others to survive.

 

Installation View Courtesy of Nicole Eboni Via Instagram

Something still has to be done on behalf of the Burkina crisis victims.  Somehow a room covered in pink and fans, Graham Wilson’s High Maintenance, Curated by Lux Yuting Bai, connects to the things currently prominent across the art industry.  : “Make humorous connections between the microstructures of the neurological brain and the neurotic effects of the contemporary political environment.”  The lines of division are increasing and Contemporary artwork becomes more electrifying.  As a weapon of sharp criticism, Wilson’s art gets deep into the core.  The human psyche now becomes a room that people can step inside of.  “The colors represent the four types of neurochemicals released in the brain that allegedly bring happiness to human beings.”  The world would be at a loss without the future possibilities that China offered African nations and others across the world.  The structures of 2019 express “vulnerability in fear of explostions.”  It was obviously easy for Wilson to explore literature and culture.  He exposed “a contrast between happiness and destruction, health and death.”  Why must someone make a choice that is on behalf of one or the other?  Living a middle class life takes an escalating amount of work.  Now the present is operating on a different scale.  Confusion is more commonplace and Wilson used a playful format to demonstrate that.  For Wilson, “…these pieces exemplify the difficulty of maintaining physical and mental health, and that achieving this balance is indeed high maintenance.”

Installation View Courtesy of the Artist

Even the art industry isn’t safe from its own healthy form of self-criticism.  Trashmarks by Will Rahilly presented a rotating foot, which activated projections set to the four walls of the room.  Rahilly made the installation work in such a way that “… it transforms from an artwork to garbage and back again.”  Contemporary is starting to become one of the best means of communication.  Viewers remind themselves of the fact that art provides symbols that provoke.  Spring/ Break cannot just be left to the domain of Armory Week or just be limited to viewing during March, especially when you must make income from artwork.  It involves aptitude with certain skills that Rahilly questions.  What artists are trying to do? Are they trying to fix something?  One of the photos in the show displayed “an art gallerist desperately (selling) the piece (the foot) to a reluctant collector.”  Technology helps answer those two questions and expand practice to do more than what is expected.  Certain things can be dated to the same age as these emerging artists, but, throughout this photographic journey, Rahilly proclaims that he is actually happily behind.

Cj Hendry, Drug Money, Curated by John Zinonos at the 2019 SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Photo by Samuel Morgan photography. Via Artnet

The first commanding installation that the audience saw when they entered the art fair was a human sized replica of a pill bottle.  Guests were invited to step inside the bottle to grab and collect as much money as they could, while inside the plastic chamber.  Cj Hendry took on the national challenge of looking at how the drug war shapes the current United States of America.  Risk is more prevalent for users who lack a high enough socioeconomic status to pay for rehabilitation, and a good PR team to spin the wheel around to clear the user’s name.  Those in need of legal medicine bear the expenses.  The problem has grown from the “rampant” illegal drug use within the creative arts industries to the world : “a perpetually growing cycle of wealth….” Likewise, Condé Nast and Times Square allowed Spring/ Break to reach a level of examination.  Some people are actually allowed to do whatever they want.  On the global, they are still allowed to do the same thing.  The makers of both legal and illegal drugs won’t relent on their ability to make profit.  It is no secret that both legal and illegal users are ill and use with the belief that it help them survive, continue to work to pay off their bills.  With no clear explanation about what takes place during clinical trials before medicine reaches the market, the falsification of the trade promotes a lack of concern for users.  There is a culture of disobliging people who are dependent on drugs.  It is “an escalating tale of money, leisure, enjoyment, addiction, and abuse.”  Whether they are taking these drugs to be more like themselves, reach their happy place, or to be healthier, users are denied the ability to empower themselves.  The basic points of business follow supply, demand, and balance. More products are made in a scheme where it “the speed and quantity at which drugs and money exchange hands on the streets of this country as well as highlighting the very hypocrisy individuals who have, currently are, and/or will in the future benefit from ‘DRUG MONEY’.” WM

D. Rashaan King

D. Rashaan King has been a Brooklyn native his whole life.  Prior to writing for White Hot Magazine, he volunteered with Warm Up MoMS PS1 and the Affordable Art Fair.  King also taught art and design at Great Oaks Charter School as an Urban Education Fellow, through Americorps.  His past work experience includes work with Park Exhibition Space, LoT Office for Architecture, Shin Gallery, The Center for Book Arts, Market Hotel, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, White Box, Cityarts Inc, and Uprise Art.  His first institutional experience was the Sculpture Center, located in Long Island City.  After pursuing Visual Arts at Columbia University, King has studied Architectural Design, Information Architecture, and how to Mentor Managers of Art Organizations that are in Transition.  His last exhibition was at the Allied Productions & Le Petit Versailles’ Double Anniversary Benefit.  Following his other passion for food, D. Rashaan King is a chef at Al Pastor.

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