2008: Building a relationship with Governors Island

After the success of the 2007 event, FIGMENT developed a closer relationship with Governors Island, and was invited back for 2008, with the added invitation to propose additional arts projects for the island. The team decided to expand to create a three-day event over a weekend, and considered longer-term interactive art installations.

In a conversation with David, Leslie Koch expressed a new idea for the island that she had been working on: “Do you know anyone who might be able to create a mini-golf course on the island?” David did some research, made some calls, and started to work with Eli Kent on the idea of an artist-designed 9-hole mini-golf course, called “The City of Dreams Mini-Golf Course.” They applied for a grant to the Black Rock Arts Foundation (which they received), and put out a call for art in early 2008.

At the same, Johan Kritzinger began to work on the idea for the Emergence project, a season-long exhibition of interactive art and performance in a building on Governors Island. Johan recruited Joyce Manolo, Audrey Boguchwal, and Elke Dehner to help curate the project. Johan and David also submitted Emergence for a grant from Black Rock Arts Foundation, and were very pleased to receive the grant. Emergence ultimately involved over 30 artists and groups of artists from around the world. It opened in Building 14 on May 31, 2008 (the day the island opened), and ran for 9 weeks, closing on July 26.

As Minigolf and Emergence were progressing, the FIGMENT event itself was growing and acquiring momentum, with a planning team of about 40 volunteers working on promotion, fundraising, coordinating artists, and production issues. In addition to the two Black Rock Arts Foundation Grants, FIGMENT received the Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grant, administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council from funds provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

FIGMENT 2008 planned to take over the whole north end of the island. Over 200 arts projects were proposed and mapped. Press began to take notice, with another weekend article in The New York Times, as well as pieces in Time Out New York, Gothamist, the New York Post, and the Village Voice.

Despite some intermittent rain (heavy at times), over 10,000 people came out over the three-day event (June 27-29, 2008), setting new records for attendance on the island for each of the three days, and for the weekend as a whole. Over 100 volunteers helped to plan and run the event.

In addition, FIGMENT planned its first night-time fundraising party for the Saturday of FIGMENT, called Fortification. Fortification was planned by Kevin Balktick and Wylie Stecklow, and took place in Castle Clinton in Battery Park on Saturday, June 28, immediately after FIGMENT.

The City of Dreams Mini-Golf Course was an instant hit and was played by thousands of children and adults throughout the rest of the season. Given that the island had over 125,000 visitors in 2008, we estimate that over 50,000 people visited the City of Dreams Mini-Golf Course.