[West] More Than A Figment | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[West] More Than A Figment

A figment of our imagination is approaching, and you can just call it FIGMENT. The weekend of May 14 and 15, creativity in Jackson gets a mega dose of love when free, kid- and adult-friendly interactive art will open to the public at The Plant on 80. Artists of every medium (sculpture, installation, performance, music, games, experiences, site specific pieces and social experiments) are invited to use FIGMENT as a showcase for projects. Organizers encourage anyone interested to attend and be participants in a festival of arts.

Born out of the culture of Burning Man in Nevada, FIGMENT started as a one-day event of artistic experience in 2007 on Governors Island in New York that drew 2,500 people to participate. Three years later, Boston artists facilitated an event, and this year Jackson artists are doing the same. A local volunteer team coordinates each event and adheres to a set of 11 designated principles: participation, decommodification, inclusion, self-expression, self-reliance, giving, communal effort, civic responsibility, leave no trace, immediacy and gratitude.

"What are you bringing?" is the question FIGMENT begs you to answer. My answer is hula hoops. Are you bringing yourself, dressed in your Saturday afternoon standards? Are you bringing your inhibition? Will you arrive with a crew dressed as elves or rag-tag artists? Are you bringing your receptive nature?

Wear your grandmother's old sweater and move at an ancient pace as you walk the festival grounds. Bring your better half and halfway participate in a dance. You could bring your little cousin in a turtle costume. Bring your repurposed St. Paddy's parade float. Or bring the rhythm of your feet. Bring your dance troupe and boom box. Bring your mother and her sister. Bring your made-up face, and bring your journal. Bring your curiosity about what's out there. Bring openness to change. Dress up like a body of water. Bring a rock and make it a shrine to stability. Bring a rock and make it a shrine to gravel pits and the abundance available to us.

Whatever you bring, a crucial component of FIGMENT's existence is your presence. Artists who need time to set up projects can arrive a few days early; applications for those spaces are due April 15. You can't actually buy anything at the event; it is structured to be free of commerce. So, you might simply answer the question by saying, "I'm bringing a picnic."

If you're thinking "Hula hoops? She's bringing hula hoops? She must be really cool, I can't hula hoop" you are partly wrong. You can hula hoop; it's probably just that the last time you tried, you were using a hoop made to hula around a child's short stature. Through the miracles of adult coordination and hoops with 3- to 6-foot diameters, hula hooping becomes more than just an abandoned childhood pastime. You have abdominal muscles for a reason, and it's not just so you can sit up straight and make your grandma proud. They are also for keeping hula hoops suspended.

The Plant on 80 is now a clearinghouse for creative culture in this capital city. Many Jacksonians visited the location under its former auspices, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. What elementary class could pass on an opportunity to tour the origin site of a sugary delight? There isn't actually a magic spring of corn syrup and carbonated water flowing through the site, but Town Creek does flow underneath the asphalt and the currently largely unoccupied buildings at the site on Highway 80. The Plant on 80 exists as a kind of testimony to the ability of a place to morph into something else. What good is an old, abandoned bottling plant? FIGMENT is a fragment of the answer.

This will be the first event of this style and magnitude to take place in Jackson. Ever. Communities that don't have vibrant arts scenes aren't healthy communities. Arts are essential for imagining and creating that which does not exist. FIGMENT is a place to go to have your imagination stretched and to meet new neighbors at the edge of your creativity. Your creativity is important because it's the way your dreams become reality.

Art you can touch; art that can touch you. Art you can walk between; art you can dance to; art that will dance around you; art that unfolds with you and folds into your pocket. FIGMENT planners expect a little bit of everything and something of nothing to be present at The Plant that weekend in May. All they have done is to say: "Here is a place you can come and be artistic, be art, be a witness, and/or be part of a community's creative practice."

Can you bring the world at your fingertips to a world of pure imagination? I'll see you there.

Do you have money, art, time and resources to share with FIGMENT? Find it on the web at jackson.figmentproject.org, as FIGMENT JXN on Facebook and FIGMENTjxn on Twitter.

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

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