Figment—a word that immediately conjures imagination the way in any crowd a shout of “Marco” will elicit at least one “Polo” in response. Figment—from the Latin fingere: to shape. FIGMENT—“a forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art by emerging artists across disciplines,” as the movement behind the event that wears its name defines it.
Whether you are a world explorer, a child in a swimming pool, a scholar of the arts, or just a curious individual, FIGMENT is a converging arts invitation containing a photo of you inside a hula-hoop waiting to be opened.
On April 7th, 2013, FIGMENT hosted its “explosion of creativity” in San Diego’s Chicano Park. The space the project inhabited is itself an explosion of creativity, spanning a large grassy public park beneath freeway overpasses whose concrete bridge pylons have been painted into monumental murals. Curious to discover the artistic mayhem, and to take some notes for our own upcoming arts festival, a fellow curator of The Verge Series and I hopped a trolley downtown.
Drawn into the park by the sound of drumming, we entered FIGMENT to witness a large circle of dancers performing a traditional indigenous dance, wearing beaded shell anklets over Chuck Taylors and sweats. To the right an on-site crafts fair spread, including a large stretch of sand art, a bicycle-powered splatter paint station, and a full screen-printing booth.
Each exhibit invited attendees of all ages and interests into participatory and purely creative opportunities to mingle with different media out among other fellow creators. Our minds drifted with an exhibit of giant balloon sculpture jellyfish. Our imaginations went royal with a princess crown-making booth. Our gaze filled with origami paper cranes spinning in the air beside a crowd of jugglers and hula-hoopers making music with movement. Anywhere we turned bloomed with inspiration, action, and potential.
FIGMENT began on Governors Island in New York Harbor in July of 2007 as a one-day participatory arts event hosting over 2,600 participants. The movement’s name is inspired by famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol, a believer that everyone is capable of being a star for fifteen minutes, who wanted his tombstone to say only one word: “Figment.”
Since 2007, FIGMENT has become a nationwide participatory arts event, one that believes in the importance of creating and supporting conversations among the arts as an alternative to the “shortcomings of the commercial art world.” They do so by devising “new ways to create, share, think, and dream about what’s possible.”
FIGMENT holds calls for participation for their events in New York, Boston, Jackson, D.C., Pittsburg, San Diego, and even Geelong, Australia, and the movement is growing. See where FIGMENT may be converging next near you, or host your own arts festival. If you’re in San Diego, check out our upcoming events with The Verge Live Arts and Salon Series. May the figment be with you.