FIGMENT is new to Chicago. So naturally a question people ask is, “Well, what IS this so-called FIGMENT?” For starters, it’s interactive. And it’s 100% FREE. With 300 artists and volunteers and more than 50 projects and staged events, there’s collaborative fun for all ages and levels of participation at Garfield Park Conservatory, August 10-11. But it’s more.
FIGMENT is an antidote to uncertain times. Organizers focused on concepts like decommodification and outside-the-box thinking believe strongly in FIGMENT’s capacity to counteract troubling news and provide a break from hardships many Chicagoans face.
“Art can be a force for personal or social transformation,” says Elysia Lock, FIGMENT Chicago’s Producer. “Some artists are coming with fake mustaches and costumes, others are coming with big ideas to share on environmental and political issues. Lots of the art is purely fun.”
One innovative idea coming to FIGMENT is Bring Your Bag Chicago. Artists hop to gather 2,568 single use plastic bags – the amount Chicago uses every minute – for an onsite installation. People will be able to sign these bags to show their support for the proposed ordinance to ban plastic bags. Maybe next year or two, you won’t see as many unsightly plastic bags in Chicago.
More than a few projects have potential to invigorate sensibilities of play and pure creation. A visual sculpture called Feedback changes imagery based on ambient noise of visitors – and then feeds back on itself in an infinite audio-video loop. It isn’t to be seen, it’s to be experienced.
Raw materials and instructions will greet curious guests at the Prayer Flag Walk, provided by the artist herself. “The project does not require artistic talent but just a willingness to spread community and fellowship,” says Andrea Jablonski, gallery curator of the Elastic Arts Foundation and resident of Garfield Park. She already has handed flags to her neighbors, and at FIGMENT hopes to gather 50 or more flags of inspiring messages that will eventually “daisy chain” into other communities.
This year, FIGMENT Chicago is aligning with a Chicago winter tradition and self-proclaimed “world’s largest mobile food drive” to form the first annual Kiditarod. “We like to think it’s Chiditarod for small people,” says Kiditarod co-organizer, Rohan Thadani. Teams of Kidita-racers will take in art, play games, and learn about Figment’s founding principles. Kiditarod is also a food drive where racers are asked to bring in 20 lbs of food.
“We’re asking for anybody and everybody to bring food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository,” says co-organizer Hannah Aubry, a local artist who like Thadani is also involved with Bring Your Bag Figment. “The bins will be present all weekend so that all attendees may contribute, whether or not they they participate in Kiditatord – but we’re hoping people do. It’s fun for kids, and it helps Chicago.”
Whether participants hop on their first “Mutant Vehicle” on a Blues Cruise, chill at the Fire and Drum Jam Saturday evening, or create a colorful ‘stache at Camp Mustache, inclusive and bridge-building moments aplenty will be found.