An increasingly beloved and anticipated feature of Armory Week, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, still just a few dozen months old, has received accolades aplenty for its freshness and verve in years past, and its 2013 show was received no differently. For this year's outing, billed New Mysticism and housed in a schoolhouse (of yore, now a multi-use space known as Old School) in Little Italy (of yore, a neck of Mott Street now known as NoLita), the venue itself was imbued at once with youth and history, a fitting milieu for a fair whose young class of artists and curators seemed to nod knowingly to current peers, formal precedents and event-forebears—of a century ago, of a few decades ago, in the present—while carving newly inspired trajectories of their own. To get a glimpse of the how, the why and the henceforth of all this, we posed a few questions to Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, SPRING/BREAK's founders, as well as to a participating curator, Adam Mignanelli, and an exhibited artist, Matthew Hassell.
Andrew Gori & Ambre Kelly
What led to the choice of venue for this year, and why the theme "new mysticism"?
We're compelled by non-traditional artist spaces in general, and we tend to see the activation of historical spaces as an additive element to the experience of artwork, as long as the two are paired complementarily. We've liked the Old School (built in 1825) for years due to its location, age, and history of its use over time. It cements these new artworks even more in the present by allowing for stark juxtapositions. And since it will most likely be sold to a developer this year, we thought we should make use of such a charming space while we could.
New Mysticism came out of a general excitement we were feeling towards artworks that seemed to convey new intuitions around formal processes—especially those that consider our future relationship to technological advance, and the ghost-in-the-machine that would likely follow once humankind saw enough of itself within it to spiritualize it. Of course, once we set the theme, curators evolve new directions for the concept that far surpass our initial idea—and this is what we look forward to most.
What do you envision for SPRING/BREAK in coming years?
We're interested in activating national and international spaces at peak exhibition times by reappropriating old banks, theaters, schoolhouses and other communal spaces, featuring a 50/50 split of curators from NYC and the city where the work will be shown. The concept is to bring curators to the foreground, offer them a challenging space to interact with via artwork, and provide an exhibition theme for them to set works within. It's also a way to showcase emerging and established artists in a new environment, and in a way that hopefully reinvigorates the exhibition experience. Many visitors said that SPRING/BREAK at the Old School "felt like old New York." It would be great to have this happen elsewhere.
What other curatorial or otherwise creative projects are on your 2013 agenda?
We're planning a show at the Old School for the New Museum's IDEAS CITY biennial in May—an exhibition that aligns with the museum's theme of "untapped capital" (our exhibition theme is "wish meme"). We're also collaborating on artworks under our codependent creative identity, BOYFRIENDGIRLFRIEND, and we plan to shoot a feature film this fall.