New York’s SPRING/BREAK Art Show is back for its eighth year, taking over the former Finnish and Liberian Embassies with 85 artist projects, all revolving around the theme of “Fact and Fiction.” As always, curators have brought with them an impressive squad of artists, many emerging, and a bold vision, collectively transforming the unconventional space into the city’s coolest art venue. Here are eight of the fair’s best projects.
No More Lip Service
Curated by Marly Hammer and Lisa Wirth
Intrigued by the terrible names of vintage lipstick shades like “Ravish Me Red,” Karen Mainenti began making text-based paintings immortalizing the sexual innuendo implied by some makeup products. For SPRING/BREAK, she wanted to create a color that better suited the woman of 2019: No Lip Service, a bold, shimmery gold that contrasts with the typical girly pinks and romantic reds of most lipsticks.
You can try on all the shades at the booth’s Lip Service vanity station—a great photo op, naturally—and buy Mainenti’s custom-made cosmetic product for $30, or the matching canvas for $4,000. The booth, curated by Work in Progress, Marly Hammer, and Lisa Wirth’s new feminist venture aimed at increasing the visibility of women artists, also features a “Me Too Boutique.” Mainenti’s photorealistic graphite drawings quote so-called apologies from men accused of sexual misdeeds—including Brett Kavanaugh and Harvey Weinstein—on stereotypically male products such as Pabst Blue Ribbon and protein powder.
On the other end of the spectrum are the “Packaged Curves” sculptures, slip-cast from Clinique bottles and other women’s beauty products. The artist told artnet News that she is endlessly fascinated bythe design choices used to appeal to different sexes. “If you take off the packaging, the form still reads as feminine. You know that they’re not men’s products.”
Sometime Last Night
Curated by Lauren Powell
One can’t help feeling somewhat voyeuristic walking into Shona McAndrew’s recreation of her bedroom, with sculptures of the artist and her boyfriend lying nude on the bed. She’s captured a private, almost shockingly intimate moment with a sense of loving care that ultimately leaves the viewer unfazed by the artist’s plus-size frame.
Because McAndrew constructed the scene from memory, “everything is a little more saturated,” curator Lauren Powell told artnet News. “It looks clear from a distance, but gets fuzzy as you get close up.”
The piece is crafted almost entirely of papier-mâché. McAndrew made 58 objects in total, including tiny nail polish bottles, a potted plant, and a pile of women’s magazines.
Curated by John Zinonos
At any given time, there are about 200 bills up for grabs at Cj Hendry’s Drug Money, a money blowing machine retrofitted to look like a bottle of prescription medication. Anyone is welcome to step in and give it their best shot, grabbing as much money as they can over 30 seconds. The bills, of course, are fake, based on a hand-drawn design by the artist.
“It’s a fun piece that has a twisted meaning,” curator John Zinonos told artnet News. “It’s about the speed that money and drugs are exchanged in this country.”
Presented by UNIX Gallery and curated by Andrew Cole
Hot on the heels of a show-stealing performance at SPRING/BREAK Los Angeles, in which he took appropriation art to the next level by posing as an incredibly convincing Richard Prince, Jonathan Paul is encouraging audiences to reject the increasingly tribal nature of society with US/THEM.
He’s sorting participants as “One of Us” or “One of Them”—you’ll get a photo ID card proclaiming your new identity—using a pendulum he’s dubbed “The Decider.” This “stupid silly little machine,” inspired by the 1985 dystopian sci-fi film Brazil, will “make the most important decision of your life,” Paul told artnet News. By randomly assigning identities, he’s hoping to demonstrate the ways in which restrictive roles that divide us are imposed by society from birth, despite our shared humanity.
Curated by Alejandro Jassan and Deanna Evans
When Alejandro Jassan and Deanna Evans were trying to come up with an idea for the fair, “we couldn’t get away from talking about Donald Trump being one of the fakest people ever—so we decided to throw him a fake birthday,” Evans told artnet News.
Inspired by Trump’s fast-food obsession, the balloon-strewn party mixes real food items with artworks including a White House-shaped birthday cake by Edward Cabral and a bronze bag of Cheetos from Tamara Johnson.
The other featured artists are Carl D’Alvia, Rebecca Morgan, Chelsea Seltzer and Theo Rosenblum, Andrew Smenos, and Pansy Ass Ceramics. Each of the pieces features varying degrees of verisimilitude, causing the viewer to pause and reflect on what’s real and what’s fake.
Presented by the Untitled Space and curated by Indira Cesarine
“The story of Adam and Eve is really so misogynist,” curator Indira Cesarine told artnet News. “All women are born with this feeling of shame, that they are responsible for all of these problems.”
She’s asked 20 female-identifying artists to present work dispelling the blame placed on Eve in this harmful creation myth, installing the art amid flowering, paradisaical greenery.
The resulting display, featuring Hiba Schahbaz, Jeanette Hayes, Rebecca Goyette, and Sarah Maple, among others, explores themes of sexual temptation, sin, and liberation, tackling the Bible story through a feminist lens.
“Home Body: Jon Key and Bianca Nemelc”
Presented by Ross Kramer Gallery and curated by Ché Morales
A sense of sanctuary permeates “Homebody,” a three-room booth featuring painters Jon Key and Bianco Nemelc. Neither artist has ever created an installation before, but curator Ché Morales is “very much into getting people involved in the painting so it’s not just on the white wall.”
It was a laborious process, taking until four in the morning to finish putting down the hand-painted tile flooring. But the raw space has been utterly transformed.
Key’s “bedroom,” titled “The Violet Den,” looks to evoke the safety of interior spaces with a four-color palette: “black for blackness, red for family, legacy violet for queerness, and green for Southernness,” he told artnet News, pointing out touches like magnolia leaves that reference his Alabama roots.
Across the wall, Nemelc’s “Motherland”—her first-ever art show—represents the home’s kitchen, a space where women care for their families. Her canvases, featuring the nude female form and flowing water, blend seamlessly into the walls and floor, pooling in a pond on the floor that’s been illuminated by projection mapping.
“All of the women are pouring themselves off the painting onto the floor, which becomes a place for meditation,” Nemelc told artnet News.
SPRING/BREAK Art Show is on view at 866 UN Plaza, 2nd Floor, New York, March 5–11, 2019.
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