The fourth annual LUMEN festival, presented by Staten Island Arts, places local and international artists in an unusual setting: the empty Lyons Pool. The borough’s largest public bath fits 2,800 swimmers, and was one of 11 NYC pools built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936. Before it reopens (with water) later this summer, the drained pool and recreation center will be filled with video and performance art for one evening. On Saturday 15, more than 60 artists have been given free rein over the facilities, and can use everything from the bathrooms to a lifeguard’s chair for their installations. The displays are on view from 6pm to midnight, but prime viewing occurs after 8pm, when the video projections glow in the growing darkness. Don’t worry, the pool isn’t totally dry: A bar in the center offers Brooklyn Brewery beers and PepperJack Grill sangria, and you can make pit stops at food trucks such as Morris Grilled Cheese and Desi Food as you wander around. Out of the 68 different works on view, here are the standouts.
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Sit and listen
Step into the changing room to hear vocalist Gelsey Bell, a doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at NYU, perform a ten-minute composition with fiddler Cleek Schrey. “Locker Room Duet” includes improvisations based on the surroundings, and is played for a maximum of ten people at a time to create an intimate experience. It’s sure to trump any awkward group locker-room experiences you had in high school.
Operate a pedal-powered projector
Staten Island’s cicada influx gets a major addition with Scott Van Campen and D.B. Lampman’s Cicada Machine, a ten-foot-long steel-and-paper contraption in the shape of an insect. Climb on and start pedaling to make the wings flap up and down. The movement triggers a Super-8 projector mounted on the machine’s front, which then illuminates a section of the pool with a silent film of flying mechanical butterflies.
Smile for the camera
Step in front of Kristopher Johnson’s lens to become part of his “Lumen Archetypes” portrait series, which showed at LUMEN in 2011 and 2012. As the native Staten Islander documents visitors with a mini photo booth, he adds the images to a slide show projected onto the pool deck for everyone to see.
Bleed for art
Imagine what your life would have been like if you had become a rocket scientist or firefighter. In Theodicy, Valerie Kuehne writes obituaries about the fantasy lives of anyone who stops by, and then pastes the typed pages onto a large mirror. For posterity, she’ll either prick your finger with a pin so you can leave a reddened fingerprint on the page, or encourage you to part with an object of sentimental value.
See garbage differently
Watch Dominique Paul’s beautiful video Migration of the Arthropods, which shows her floating in New York Harbor in pseudo diving gear made out of detritus such as discarded plastic bottles, salad containers and LED lights. The striking work was inspired by Paul’s view of lower Manhattan from her Governors Island studio—according to the artist, the artificial environment of the office towers reminded her of the carefully controlled conditions inside a deep-sea diver’s suit.
LUMEN: Lyons Pool, 6 Victory Blvd at Murray Hulbert Ave, Staten Island (718-414-6907, lumenfest.org). Travel: From the Staten Island Ferry, take the SIRR to Tompkinsville Station or the S61, S62, S78, S51 or S74 bus to Bay St and Victory Blvd. Sat 15 6pm–midnight; free.