North Coasters invade NYC art scene

Posted on Sunday June 10, 2012

Back home, a few of us artists have formed a small group to provide mutual support and feedback, and as a way of staying connected with contemporary thinking. One of the group is Bek (Rebecca) Kinsey, of Byron Bay. Bek actually did the same sculpture summer school that I’m now doing, last year. As a result of a collaboration project that she did in NYC following this, she and her collaborator (Brooklyn-based artist Hannah Lamar Simmons), who work as paperJAM, were invited to put a work into Figment NYC. Figment is an outdoor, participatory art festival, currently being held here on Governor’s Island.

Bek returned to NYC a week ago to complete the project and install it, and I caught up with her there today. The work, Touch (Off the Grid), consists of a multitude of battery-powered touch-lights that they’ve rewired to use LEDs and run off solar power. Some of the lights have words sewn into the plastic domes. Viewers can interact with the work by pressing the lights to switch them on or off. Some people touch randomly, others may spell out words by switching on multiple lights.


The work is installed in a tunnel that forms the back entrance to Fort Jay. Governor’s Island was once a military establishment, so there are lots of interesting installation spots. They’ve also installed a smaller version in the treehouse project elsewhere on the parade grounds.

The works in the festival were typically mixed. It’s not a curated show in the usual sense, so there were quite a few feral pieces mixed in with the more polished works. The works also had to compete with a retrospective show of massive works by major American sculptor Mark di Suvero.


There was a great vibe there, and heaps of people. As Bek noted, it had a Lismore festival feel to it, with plenty of alternative-y stuff, including an outpost of the Burning Man festival, where I noticed this amazing creature.


The queue for the free ferry back to the tip of Manhattan had to be seen to be believed, and I’d be surprised if the ferry had life jackets for half the people on it – the whole vehicle deck was covered in people.

Bek mentioned that she’d run into another North Coast artist, Kellie O’Dempsey, who’s been over here scouting for opportunities.  Maybe we can start our own colony here…