A Flux Factory event tends to be animated by a certain kind of magic — creative energy that’s both thoughtful and DIY, a sense of play valued equally alongside purpose. Whether it’s a biennial staged aboard a Chinatown bus or a utopian village constructed in a gallery, a Flux production often stems from a wacky idea that almost sounds like it could be a dare. That’s part of the fun, after all — no one really knows how it’s going to turn out.
For the Flux-a-Thon, the idea began with a fairly standard fundraising event: a walkathon. Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, Flux Factory’s previous managing director, was inspired by her mother, who organizes a walk to raise money for a domestic violence shelter in her town. “The whole town gets together, decorates high heels, and walks down Main Street,” explained current Flux Factory Managing Director Maya Suess. “The spirit of Flux is one of collaboration and play, with an emphasis on experiential artwork, so Carina and the Flux staff thought that a walk-a-thon would be more in line with who we are as an organization, and a fun alternative to other fundraising options. Inviting artists, friends, family, and other New Yorkers to build something together strengthens our community and gives us a chance to have a great, playful time.”
The Flux-a-Thon was inaugurated last year, combining elements of a walkathon, an art competition, a parade, and a party. Artists and members of the public gathered at Flux Factory to create costumes and floats for their teams, whose names and themes ranged from the Tower of Babel to, simply, science. The groups then paraded through the streets of Long Island City — Flux Factory’s home neighborhood — until they reached the Smiling Hogshead Ranch, a community garden where a crew of judges gave out glittery prizes to everyone, and an afterparty commenced.
This year’s festivities will be much the same, though with a spate of new teams — from “The Shituationist International” to “Team Bread Not ICE,” which is meant to show support for local bakers being targeted by immigration enforcement — and new judges — including artist Duke Riley and me. The parade will be led by a brass band called Pussy Grabs Back, and the afterparty, held at Plaxall Gallery, will feature a live performance by experimental musician Amirtha Kidambi. It should be an absurd amount of inspiring fun.
“The Flux Factory has always been a place where artists can try new things and not be afraid to fail,” said Suess. “The Flux-a-Thon shows how that represents an important core value of the organization. Last year someone proposed a new, untried, fun-filled fundraising option, and everyone jumped on board. It quickly became clear to us that the Flux-a-Thon includes so many Flux hallmarks: inherently participatory artworks, bringing art into very public spheres, faux-competition, killer dance parties, dressing up like weirdos, bringing ‘artists’ and ‘non-artists’ together to create as a community and celebrating urban green spaces. We hope that it becomes a staple of June events in Long Island City.”
The Flux-a-Thon 2017 parade will leave Flux Factory (39-31 29th Street, Long Island City, Queens) on June 10 at 4pm; the parade route can be found here. The afterparty will begin at 5pm at Plaxall Gallery (5-46 46th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens). Tickets to the afterparty can be purchased online or at the door.