At the end of my last post, I was about to get on a ferry to Governors Island. Walking to meet my friend at the terminal, there were pirates on bikes and people covered in glitter. We were about to travel across the East River with these whimsical characters to the Figment arts festival.
Governors Island is a decommissioned Coast Guard base in the New York Bay, and is now used as a park. Most of the buildings are empty, and Figment turned many of them into installations and galleries. We started with Fort Jay, the first fortification built on the Island. Inside, the Audiopolis was creating a sound installation based on the movement of people in the courtyard. Down in the arsenal of the fort, there were more sound installations. I really like Petit Mal, which had some orbiting lights, electronic music, and was surprisingly hypnotic. I could have stayed in that room for a long time. If I were having a party in Petit Mal, then the Nocturnal Garden Pond across from it would be the chill out place. Created by Gregory Skolozdra, there were giant glowing flowers and lily pads and the sound of electronic croaking frogs.
Outside, we walked to the Nolan Park area, which was covered in art activities and sculptures. I like the Immortal Ancestors made from styrofoam packaging in a Pre-Columbian style. It may actually be immortal. If they buried it, people would dig it up a thousand years ago and marvel at this white material that does not decompose.
There was a lot of performance art, including this intriguing Cycle Trilogy where people dressed in white were leaving white balloons on a porch.
However, the emphasis was really on participation. There were tons of opportunities to help create installations or directly interact with the art. In one building, you could draw on a kitchen in black light paint (someone had disturbingly scrawled HELTER SKELTER across the cabinet). In the Dreaming Tree above, you wrote your impossible childhood dream on a tag and attached it to the wires.
Picket Dream encouraged people to paint their idea of the American Dream on a post and then drive it into the ground with a mallet.
The most stunning art was in the No Longer Empty spaces. In their Sixth Borough project, artists have turned several houses on Colonel’s Row into site-specific installations. Andrea Mastrovito had carefully cut hundreds of animals from books and turned them into individual pop-ups that he layered over the floor and up above the fireplace. I have absolutely no idea how he did it, or how much time it must have taken. It’s one of the coolest art pieces I’ve ever seen. The above photograph really doesn’t do it justice.
Another No Longer Empty installation was done by Monika Weiss with old books and telephones circled around a fireplace. Hey, this looks like my room.
Wendy Wischer made lots of organic-shaped sculptures covered in mirrors that were installed around one of the houses, kind of like a disco infestation. I would welcome that kind of problem.
There were many more amazing art experiences that I’m forgetting, but I really recommend Figment. It’s so cool to be on an island that’s completely devoted to art, even if it’s just for a weekend.