Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles


This past weekend saw the 2014 incarnation of the Dumbo Arts Festival (AKA #DAF14), which held plenty in store for visitors. Exhibitions engaged guests on multiple levels of sensory experience, taking place outside on the streets for the casual observer and more intimately indoors as a collection of open studio experiences. Series of boutique events were held over the course of the weekend. Encounters ranged from DIY to interactive, from dancing to digital media. But enough of the dissection: let’s move on to the juicy details shall we?


Akinori Matsumoto's Sound Object installation at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Akinori Matsumoto’s Sound Object installation at Brooklyn Bridge Park


#1 spot for me? Barter town, without a doubt. Much like Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, this surprise alternate reality universe held a variety of unexpected encounters. Free piece of clothing? Check: just stop and trade tall tales with the booth vendor, then wear your new hat to barter for a photograph at the booth next door. At the entry to Barter town (coming from the Manhattan Bridge side) was Please Enable Cookies, by far the most engaging interactive work in the whole festival. Artist Risa Puno was on to something by offering homemade cookies to guests willing to share the kind of personal information one would need to provide for impersonal, online data collecting forms. In search of a quick sugar fix, one could submit detailed information for a tangible reward: cookies. The quality of cookie depended on the quantity of information provided. Questions ranged from one’ s personal address to name of childhood pet to last 4 of your social security number, testing the boundaries of private and public by exhibiting every cookie ‘buyers’ information to the general public.

Please Enable Cookies (Bartertown)

Please Enable Cookies (Bartertown)

Outside of Barter town, other notable points included the Festival Lounge located at Main Street. The decorations on the windows hid the wonderland of immersive art within. A virtual subway car rumbled past on a screen while visitors encounter a light/sound tube that carried visitors’ voices up to the second level of the space. Upstairs was a doodled forest pulled straight from a Swoon installation, surreal and composed organic curves. Nearby, guests could use stencils to create dizzying circles on a grand scale: the pencils were human scale and guests had to seemingly dance around the giant stencils to create looped figures on the giant paper below.

Other points of interest included Akinori Matsumoto‘s sound objects-cum-sculptures, located at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Thomas Fuin’s much celebrasted Reflections/Kolonihavehus. The interactive exhibit The World We Want, situated on a wall under Manhattan Bridge, invited guests to add their own hopes for a better world which others could then peruse.


Thomas Fruin's Reflections/Kolonihavehus

Thomas Fruin’s Reflections/Kolonihavehus


Not too many this time around. I ran across an impromptu performance of dancers embodying a New Wave neo-mystical vibe (think black leotards with reflective triangles above the navel) performing near the Festival Lounge. An interactive game for visitors to play on the cobblestones invited passersby to pick up coins with numbers and place them on messages, then decode the numbers on a coded chart. A bit confusing and cumbersome, but somewhat intriguing and definitely unexpected.


Future Recommendations

Those maps; the guides either had a little too much or a little too little; hard to tell. Could DAF mark the exhibits on the map and, especially, denote the events details more clearly (interactive features in store for 2015..?) Pretty please take feedback on those maps as they could be more user-friendly. Events were scattered throughout the festival in a way that visitors could see where they were supposed to occur, but rarely when they occurred (at least not all events were clearly marked in terms of performance start/end times).

More music would be nice. DAF should provide more than just the Archway for adult activities: away from this site, the variety of offerings were limited by how well you could maneuver around hordes of guests in open studios (hooray artists!) and how well you could maneuver around kids on scooters in the streets (boo entitled kids!).

DUMBO Arts Fest map 2014 (so many numbers..)

DUMBO Arts Fest map 2014 (Must. Visit. All the things. )

Other than that, the interactive elements were there. Crowd-pleasers abounded. All ages were welcome: this was not a Bushwick Open Studios nor did it posture itself as one. DAF14 served as a multi-media art festival engaging on a tame, family level and this part it played to perfection.

See everyone at next year’s Dumbo Arts Fest! If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that everyone’s welcome to come down to DUMBO for Dumbo Arts Festival to discover new art gems and to strut their stuff.

Leave A Comment

Clicky Web Analytics