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The Most Provocative Art at Spring/Break

At the avant-garde art fair, this immersive booth showcased female sexuality outside of the male gaze

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In the crowded lineup of art fairs from Armory Week’s New York takeover, which officially ends today, several vied for the title of the “anti-art fair,” eschewing their mainstream counterparts’ reputations for showcasing more pomp and circumstance than actual art. Perhaps no fair embodied that spirit better than Spring/Break, held this year on two floors of vacant office space at 4 Times Square in Manhattan (what better place to exemplify inflated costs and cultural caste systems than the former offices of Condé Nast?). Taking up the unrented 22nd and 23rd floors, the fair repurposed old offices as booths for showcasing everyone from established titans like Dustin Yellin to emerging art collectives like Howl! Happening.

While parts of the fair delighted in the absurd and apolitical, others reflected the widespread flood of art being created in response to the current political climate. Some took a minimalist approach, like the booth from feminist sculpture collective Material Girls. Others like Indira Cesarine of Untitled Space were higher concept. Her immersive project, “(Hotel) XX,” reimagined a seedy motel as a site for openly exploring female sexuality and excess rather than sexual subterfuge.

Conjuring a smoky vintage aesthetic and an eerie, lived-in quality, the installation included atmospheric elements like an unmade bed and a working record player spinning records by Donovan. “That’s the creepy thing about hotels … You don’t know what’s happened in them before you. Or if someone is watching through a two-way mirror,” Cesarine tells us.

Flipping the image of cheap motels as opportunities for male-on-female voyeurism, Cesarine’s curation of all female-identifying artists emphasized female sexuality outside of the male gaze. Case in point: photographer and female dominatrix Kat Toronto a.k.a. Miss Meatface. “She often works with her husband and has her be her sort sex slave,” explains Cesarine. Other highlights include Alexandra Rubinstein’s paintings of close-up shots of female pleasure, and Katrina Majkut’s decidedly non-domestic needlepoints, which depict everything from rape kits pumpkin-spice flavored Durex condoms. To see more, click through the attached gallery.

Main image: Hotel (XX) curated by Indira Cesarine © Untitled Space