Burning Man-inspired event brings participatory art to Chicago

August 15, 2013

Lee Jian Chung

Figment, an international arts exhibition inspired by Burning Man, held its first Chicago event over the weekend.

Figment follows in the footsteps of Burning Man — an annual arts festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada — by bringing free and interactive art pieces to the Garfield Park Conservatory on the city’s West Side.

Visitors could play music with modified children’s toys, sit on a swing that vibrated to electronica music and even play croquet with bowling balls.

As one of 10 cities to host Figment, Chicago’s event also had exhibitions that were unique to the city and its social issues. The Theatre of the Oppressed Chicago did a performance about the recent school closings, and invited participants to portray politicians, teachers and students. Right after, the group led a discussion about improving the education system.  Bring Your Bag Chicago built a canopy out 2,568 plastic bags, the number that curators say the city uses every minute.

Figment’s website said the group’s goals are to encourage artists to think about new ways to share their creativity and to challenge the way art is growing too expensive for many people to purchase. Figment began in New York in 2007.

To see instruments made out of children’s toys and the plastic bag canopy, watch the video above.

Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him @jclee89.