Jessica Lichtenstein, “Do They make a Sound” (2020) curated by the Untitled Space (all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

“Immersive” feels like one of the key terms by which to gauge what is happening in the contemporary arts scene — immersive environments, immersive experiences. Going hand in hand with this theme, the projects at the latest edition of Spring/Break Art Show, titled In Excess, deepen and extend that feeling of immersion by being hallucinatory, obsessive, and ravishing. From the moment I stepped off the elevator, I felt all of the above while walking through the show.

Kate Klingbeil, “Burrowed” (2020) curated by Rachel Frank, Kristen Racaniello, and Jacob Rhodes of Field Projects

I immediately took to Scooter LaForge‘s installation (curated by Joshua Nierodzinski) of paintings, textiles, and ceramic. The entirely baroque dinner table setting featured cups and plates gilded with a thin rim of gold, all upcycled or recycled, which made me appreciate the work more.

I picked up the theme of living under the threat of climate change in several projects. The one I appreciated the most was Rachel Schmidt‘s “Vanishing Points” (curated by Dawne Langford), which uses video projections, furniture, and a host of single-use consumer items to construct a vision of opulence set in a dystopian future where we have at last collectively depleted the earth of most of its natural resources. Schmidt’s installation is foreboding, yet inviting, precisely because of its ravishing footage, shot in Taiwan and Scotland.

Scooter LaForge, “Please Don’t Feed the Animals” (2020) curated by Joshua Nierodzinski

Rachel Schmidt, “Vanishing Points” (2020) curated by Dawne Langford

I felt lucky to run into LJ Roberts, with whom I had a studio visit about a year ago, during which we discussed her textile van piece, which is here titled “Vantasy Vehicle Vessel Veroshop” (2020), a kind of obsessively nurtured tribute to van culture and queer women.

I also ran into Anna Cone, (who I remembered from last year’s Spring Break) who was showing with Victoria Udondian, Max Colby, and Kirstin Lamb. Their “Tableau Vivant” project is a celebration of sumptuous paintings and textiles and ornate design.

Anna Cone, Victoria Udondian, Max Colby, and Kirstin Lamb, “Tableau Vivant” curated by the artists

LJRoberts, “Vantasy Vehicle Vessel Veroshop” (2020) curated by Dustin Yellin

Jess Bass, “See/Saw” curated by Nadia Tahoun

Lastly, I found myself ensconced in what felt like an ethereal, surreal film when I walked into an installation curated by Sarah Darro (with artists Sarah Wertzberger, Heath West, and Robert Raphael). I was further impressed by the title of the installation: “total work of art.” I loved that they resisted using the synonymous German term, which is frequently wielded as a kind of art scene shibboleth. This is how Spring/Break feels each time I visit: a total work of art I’m welcome to dive into, regardless of what language I’m conversant with.

Destiny Belgrave, “Tender Tending” (2020) curated by Tess Sol Schwab

Natalie Baxter, “Guns Guns Guns” (2020) curated by Lauren Wolchik

Natasha Wright, “Sistah Grotto” (2020) curated by Ben Pritchard at SFA Projects

Sarah Wertzberger, Heath West, and Robert Raphael, “total work of art.” (2020) curated by Sarah Darro

Spring/Break Art Show’s In Excess continues at 625 Madison Avenue (Midtown, Manhattan) through March 9.

Seph Rodney, PhD, is a former senior critic and Opinion Editor for Hyperallergic, and is now a regular contributor to it and the New York Times. In 2020, he won the Rabkin Arts Journalism prize and in...