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Participatory Art at FIGMENT

Jun 16, 2010

by Michelle Traub

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This past weekend, I boated to an island not of daiquiris or conga lines, but instead one where little girl flamingos frolicked on stilts and fairy wishes hung from branches above. I look forward to FIGMENT every summer, and this last installment did not disappoint. Only a few years old, FIGMENT takes over Governors Island for a full weekend of free, participatory, family-friendly art. Children played in pools of rose petals, young couples “doodled to the beat,” and I hand-cranked a sparking wheel of Tesla’s design.

Amalia, proud new parent of a gnome

An excerpt of FIGMENT’s mission from their website:

“FIGMENT’s vision for art looks past the white-walled galleries and into the realm of participation. Art is not just something that you stand still and quietly look at — it is something you participate in. You touch it, smell it, climb it, write on it, talk to it, dance with it, play with it, learn from it… Interactive art creates a dynamic collaboration between the artist, the audience and their environment.

“FIGMENT’s goal is to advance social and personal transformation through creativity, in the form of free participatory arts events and exhibitions. FIGMENT is uninterrupted by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. Selling or advertising goods or services is not permitted. Neither our artists nor our planners and staff are paid — everything that you see at FIGMENT is born from a simple desire to share imagination with each other and the public.”

Two boys stop biking to explore “Process” by Travis Mong

Warning signs taped to structures proclaimed “BEWARE OF ART” and extended families played Frisbee in matching tutus. After only an hour of my wandering, it began to pour, and while some of the sculptures had to be squirreled away under tarp, everyone else continued painting, dancing, and squealing. There was such a collective surrender to get messy that I was inspired to scrawl notes all over my Moleskine, even as the raindrops bled ink across the pages.

What events in your area reinterpret art and activity? Share in the comments below!

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