For the past two years, the Spring/Break Art Show has been run out of the James A. Farley Building, a post office across the street from Penn Station. Now it is moving (perhaps due to its former locale’s involvement in an ambitious mass transportation project) and it’s found a spot that’s just as intriguing, at least for an art fair: two floors in a Times Square office building, hundreds of feet above the ground.
“We’re interested in engaging iconic, atypical environments where contemporary art is often absent,” Spring/Break’s co-founder, Ambre Kelly, said in a statement. “In past years this included the former Catholic school of one of the oldest cathedrals in Manhattan, then the decommissioned postal inspection offices of one of the city’s largest post offices. Our new space is an expansion of this—occupying the 12th largest commercial building in Manhattan, and with it, a new space and seat of American culture to occupy.”
And they aren’t occupying just any commercial building. They’ll be taking over space in 4 Times Square, an address known to those in the media and beyond as the former Condé Nast Building, which housed that stable of glossy magazines and media brands across dozens of floors before the company decamped for 1 World Trade Center in 2016. Spring/Break will be on one of the floors used by Vanity Fair.
(The building is owned by real estate titans in the Durst family, and a note in the press release reads “Floors 22 and 23 of 4 Times Square are provided with the support of The Durst Organization.”)
It’s certainly a novelty to stage an art fair in a Manhattan office building smack dab in the middle of the world’s most famous urban nook, where the curators dodge tourists to get to the building and then share elevators with lawyers and consultants and such, but it isn’t completely unprecedented. Last year, a group of artists took part in a three-week residency called Work in Progress that was based on the 19th floor of another Times Square office building. And I guess it’s close to Christie’s, where art is also sold, so there’s that.
As for the programming, the fair’s organizers are still putting it together ahead of the March 1 opening during Armory Week. They did provide an elliptical note on the theme, which is “Black Mirror.”
Consider the black mirror, a looking glass meant for aesthetic reflection—a way to isolate a subject—once used by Old Masters in landscape painting and portraiture. The apparatus was used for seeing the world in its most basic attributes, enhancing some features, obscuring others.
Likewise, what formal practices of artists today walk this line between showing/not telling or telling/not showing, the tight-walk dance between seven veils, showing just enough skin to be personal and throwing just enough shade to transcend?
Curators might consider the black mirrors of Today, dualities of the artist revealing too much or not enough of the self. The aesthetic black mirrors of creative process may be subject for examination—artworks made under pseudonym, underpainting counterfeits of your mentors, family photos taken expressionistically out of focus, collaged letters from a breakup. Additionally, modern black mirrors in the physical include our out-of-pocket looking glass, an Apple® a day, that Narcissus pond of 1’s and 0’s. Sext acts are a Voodoo doll of signifier/signified, our avatars bordering on occult, a world we wish into our devices a kind of crystal ball.
Additionally, there will be contributions from Kosmo Vinyl, an artist who once served as the manager for The Clash, and Larry Walczak, of the roving Brooklyn curatorial project eyewash. Stay tuned for more updates.