When IN THE AIR visited Armory Week newcomer Spring/Break Art Show yesterday after leaving the crowded rooms of hotel fair The Dependent, the comparatively quiet hallways of the Old School on Mott Street only added to the curator-driven fair’s apocalyptic theme. An installation on the school’s second floor — a trash-strewn hallway full of curious, careful details like a pizza box improbably suspended on a toppled table created by Real Quick for Fun and PPP, and curated by Sean Kinney and P.J. Monte — engaged Spring/Break’s end-times theme more literally than most.
In addition to some doom-and-gloom installations, many artists seized upon the Judgment Day theme to imagine utopian futures. Joseph Jagos and Chris Puidokas created an installation titled “Wanted for Being” (2012) — and curated by Tom Weinrich — which featured fluorescent lighting, a tipi-shaped structure made of one-way mirror panels, televisions, and incubator-like glass structures in which human hair seemed to grow from moss. This imagined future of natural and technological hybridity was one of this rewarding fair’s most elaborate installations.
In one of the most successful multi-artist rooms — which was curated by Amanda Schmitt and included carved wood sculptures by Brent Owens and a snaking, suspended sculpture made of fake flowers by Grace Villamil — Myla Dalbesio’s altar-like mixed media installation “HOLY GHOST (we can make you pure)” (2012) was especially ominous. Its glowing shelf, assortment of quartz suspended in horse hair, and ghostly photograph all suggested some cryptic sacrificial offering.
That piece’s implied violence was far more visceral than the playfully cut-up inflatable holiday decorations in the room devoted to works by Floto + Warner — and curated by Spring/Break co-creators Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly. The reassembled Santa and snowman forms evoked tumorous growths and radioactive mutants, but also more personal apocalypses like childhood nightmares and disastrous family holidays.
An enormous collage diptych by Andreis Mikael Costa similarly took a scalpel to all kinds of nostalgic symbols and images. His piece “Terror Fractal” (2012) — curated Gori and Kelly — mixed icons from pop imagery with war-time photojournalism and propaganda to create an explosive and phenomenally complex homage to a culture bent on self-destruction.
The fair’s funnest piece, hands-down, let viewers act out this self-annihilating urge. Brooklyn-based multimedia trio Fall on Your Sword’s “Sea of Fire” (2012) — curated by Maureen Sullivan — consisted of a shabby piano set in front of a projection screen and hooked up to sampling devices and a small video library. By tapping certain piano keys, users queued scenes of apocalyptic films in which New York City (especially the Statue of Liberty) meets with some violent force — including sequences from “Independence Day,” “Armageddon,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012″ — scored with original compositions by the group. The piece’s addictiveness, which had viewers waiting their turn as one after another composed their own cataclysmic piano concerto, epitomized the simultaneously utopic, euphoric, and alarmist self-destructive theme of the strongest work in this vibrant fair’s first outing.
— Benjamin Sutton