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Figment Festival Brings Whimsy and Art to Governor's Island

Finally there's a reason to dust off those fairy wings and take your stilts out of storage. At this weekend's Figment arts festival, participatory art will reign each day, allowing visitors to play, dance and see as much art as they would like.

Participation in art is the point, according to the festival's founder and director David Koren. "Often, art--especially in New York--is created by artists that are selected by an intellectual or economic elite," Koren said. "What we’re about is fulfilling the promise that public art should be created by the public," and not, as Koren said, by a "narrow minority of geniuses for people wealthy enough to own it."

Artist Douglas Hart has been to the Figment festival since it began in 2007 and has brought his audio project each of the past four years. Hart takes over Fort Jay on Governor's Island with his project "Epiphany," four speakers that capture passers-by with sounds synchronized to their movements. From inside a nearby building, volunteers operate equipment that lets them make sounds coordinated with people's movements almost as if they were adding cartoon sound effects.

"The difference between curated art and Figment is that you have the opportunity to present your art. You’re on the island, you haven’t paid anything," Hart said. "Not all of the pieces that are presented here are high art pieces, but that’s part of the joy."

The Figment festival runs from June 10 through June 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Governor's Island. Projects like the Bottle Shaker (pictured above) and the Stealth Fighter (below) will be on display through September 25. 

Zaq Landsberg's Stealth Fighter, made of astro-turf.