Anne Spalter, “Ring of Fire,” (2017) installation of 160 unique drawings, with an audio component. Photograph by Jongho Lee, 2017

BKLYN IMMERSIVE, on view at City Point in downtown Brooklyn from May 6-14th, is an initiative launched by SPRING/BREAK, New York City’s curator-driven art fair. Following on the heels of Frieze New York, the exhibition according to the press release builds on SPRING/BREAK’s 2017 theme of BLACK MIRROR, and explores the complement to the past March art fair: the spatial and environmental in exploration of similar themes of identity. As with the past fairs that SPRING/BREAK has mounted, the unorthodox location of the exhibition is an important part of its curatorial efforts. Such locations include St. Patrick’s Old School as well as a federal building with the former James A. Farley Post Office across Penn Station. This past March, the fair took place at a corporate office in a former Conde Nast building in Times Square, and now, BKLYN IMMERSIVE is taking place at City Point’s recently opened 13,500 sq ft commercial event space. The space is well fit for an exhibition of large scale site-specific installations.

Jen and Kevin McCoy Left: “Broker” Digital video display outside exhibition space Right:”Influencing Others,” Installation view. Photographs by Jongho Lee, 2017.

The artists and curators take advantage of the space, incorporating the architectural vocabulary of the building as formal elements of the works. For example, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy used the digital displays outside the actual exhibition space as a precursor to their “Broker” video installation previously installed at Postmasters Gallery as well as Influencing Others, both contending with the visual vocabulary of corporatism and the luxury real estate culture. The entrance to the room is gridded with 160 unique drawings by Anne Spalter accompanied by an audio of warm drums.

Foregroud: Jason Peters “Sky Diamond,” (2017) Background: Grace Villamil reprise of “Sanctuary City” 2017. Photograph by Jongho Lee 2017.

Once inside, viewers are met with two gargantuan installations- Jason PetersSky Diamond curated by Che Morales in the foreground, and Grace Villamil’s Sanctuary City in the background. Sky Diamond, the largest sculpture made to date by the artist, alters space using fluorescent tubes to create a three dimensional diamond shapes by using twenty three prisms to make two equilateral triangles. The light is then reflected onto the diamond shaped pool in the middle of the room, making viewers contend with not only what is present, but also with experiencing elements such as negative space and light as a physical object. As Peters deals with the exterior and expansion of space, Villamil focuses on the interior and transformation of space. The installation is a reprise of her piece in SPRING/BREAK art fair in 2015. From the outside, the structure is a huge, sort of rectangular prism made of mylar. But once one enters into the multi-sensory installation, the interior is environmentally shifted into a rock cave, with fabric covering what can only be read as bodies on the floor.

Takashi Horisaki “Social Dress New Orleans- 730 days after 10 years after” (2007). Image by Tetsugo Hyakutake courtesy of Alexandra Fanning Communications 2017

To the left is Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s video installation, as well as Takashi Horisaki’s haunting Social Dress New Orleans- 730 days After 10 years After, reinstalled after 10 years since the first time at Socrates Sculpture Park. McCoys’ installation is comprised of a massive conference table tilted up towards the video projection with chairs that are slightly smaller than real life under the. The video projected is set in a luxury high rise apartment with a female real estate agent narrating about the patterns regarding the luxury real estate marketing techniques. Using cinematographic maneuvers like the Hitchcock zoom, most notably used in Spielberg’s”Jaws” where the background zooms out while the camera zooms in on the character in the foreground, the videos achieves a droning hypnotic affect on its viewers. In contrast, Horisaki’s installation aims to translate the tangibility of the aftermath of  natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Using over 600 gallons of latex mixed with paint, Horisaki along with volunteers casted both the exterior of a shotgun-style house located at 1941 Caffin Avenue, New Orleans in Lower Ninth Ward that was destroyed by the hurricane. The latex panels, once dried were hung on metal and wire frames to recreate the house, creating a truly immersive environment through a simple representation and reminding viewers that even though more than ten years have past since the tragedy, the community still suffers from the aftermath. The proximity of Horisaki’s installation to McCoy’s video about the ever expanding luxury real estate culture paired with the newly opened venue of the exhibition sends a critical message about the complicity in the passivity of viewers in today’s late capitalist world. 

Azikiwe Mohammed “Our Futures A Present #1,” (2017) partial installation view. Photograph by Jongho Lee 2017

The curated works deal with different conceptual content as well as form, but are also engaged in a dynamic conversation with one another. Behind Horisaki’s replicated exterior of a house is Azikiwe Mohammed’s intimate exterior park of photographic African American ephemera, both found and personal, along with multiple projections of both still and moving images and a soundtrack made of 10 separate tracks. Material World, curated by Material Girls- self-described as a decentralized collective of female-identifying sculptors- whose work deal with the luxurious relationships between material and digital objects and humans through a plethora of surfaces, objects, and moving images brings to mind McCoy’s video installation. And of course, an immersive exhibition would not be complete without a playful neon-lit installation as seen in Adela Andea’s light park, curated by Kelly Goldfeder. 

Foreground: Four sculptures by Material Girls (from left to right) Devra Freelander “Polar Desire 01” (2016) Maggie Grimes “Backplate,” (2016) Gracelee Lawrence “summerhead,” (2016) and Hillary Gabryel “Fallen Porico,” (2017) Background Left: Adela Andea “untitled” (2017) curated by Kelly Goldfeder. Background Right: Lionel Cruet”Entre Nosotros” curated by Sofia Reeser del Rio. Photograph by Jongho Lee 2017

All in all, the exhibition does an impressive job in both not only the scale and content of the works, but in initiating dialogues stemming from the relationship the pieces have with each other. It is slightly reminiscent of Whitney’s exhibition Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art: 1905-2016 where Chrissie Iles curated an exhibition exploring the history of how immersive environments were first incorporated into art, and how artists have used such technologies since then. BKLYN IMMERSIVE functions as an even more contemporary survey of artists dealing with spaces and environments in a similar way. To say the least, this exhibition by SPRING/BREAK is not only wildly ambitious in both its artistic and curatorial efforts, but equally successful in both these attempts.

BKLYN IMMERSIVE is open to the public for free until May 14th, 2017. Artists featured include Adela Andea, Cameron Coffman, Lionel Cruet, Devra Freelander, Hilliary Gabryel, Melissa Godoy-Nieto, Maggie Grymes, Takashi Horisaki, Claire Lachow, Gracelee Lawrence, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, Azikiwe Mohammed, MINT Collective, Jason Peters, Will Rahilly, Anne Spalter, Rachael Starbuck, and Grace Villamil.