Voices of Burning Man features a wide diversity of perspectives on Burning Man culture, including official announcements,
cultural commentary and participant views.
You're encouraged to add your voice to the spirited and civil dialog around the ideas and issues that affect the Burning Man community.
On our first night, we birthed eight people. Maybe twenty. It’s hard to know. When beings are flying over you, under the night sky, supported only by your fingerprints and palms, numbers seem a strange reality to track.
We had made our way out to the deep playa by means of a few different vehicles — an island complete with palm trees, a multicolored bus with seats on its sides. We had climbed up and through a spinning metal globe, levering ourselves up through triangles of space, watching the lights of the Esplanade blur as those on the ground pushed the sphere in faster and faster circles. We had cased several strips of porta-potties, oriented ourselves to the compass points of the Man and the Temple. We lit our own path as we trekked through pockets of soft and sinking sand, each of us with battery packs stored on our persons. (more…)
Burning Man news comes at you faster than a speeding metaphor! More powerful than a leaping analogy! You need to digest it like a symbolically appropriate digesting thing! That’s why there’s: The Burning Man Minute!
Still not caught up? See previous episodes of The Burning Man Minute here and here!
Last Friday, a jubilant group of locals, art lovers, Burners, City officials, neighborhood activists, and a sizable crew of staff from the San Francisco Burning Man office made their way to the Hayes Valley neighborhood, and gathered to celebrate the unveiling of David Best’s latest temple in San Francisco. Best’s temples, as any Burner knows, have a hard-to-describe, extraordinary quality about them. Each one conveys a distinct meaning specific to its location, community, and point in history. This one is special to us here at Burning Man Arts, as it marks the tenth anniversary of our Civic Arts Program.
Ten years ago, we were approached by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and the City’s mayor, Gavin Newsom, and asked to work with Best to create a temple for the Hayes Valley neighborhood in San Francisco. The community’s love and appreciation for the piece energized and inspired us, and we became determined to share more public art with more communities. And, thus, our Civic Arts Program was born! Since then, the Civic Arts Program has installed 29 works of art in cities including Reno, Nevada; Detroit, Michigan; and Fernley, Nevada, as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is in addition to our Global Art Grants program, which has funded over 120 projects to date, worldwide.
In local news coverage of the project, and at the unveiling event, Best remarked that volunteers don’t work for money—they work for love. His crew, standing behind him at the event, nodded their heads in agreement. David Best’s crew of over 60 volunteers began construction on the new temple about three months ago at his home in Petaluma, California. They then moved their work to the installation site, where they worked for two weeks artfully assembling the temple’s many decorative elements.
Last Friday’s Opening Reception included remarks by SFAC Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, City Board of Supervisors Board President and District 5 Supervisor London Breed, Burning Man Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives Tomas McCabe, Madeline Behrens-Brigham of the Hayes Valley Art Coalition, and artist David Best. Mauro ffortissimo of the Sunset Piano project warmed up the crowd with a few classical music selections, and lounge act Tom Jonesing concluded the morning’s festivities with the perfect soundtrack for a sunny, joyful day in San Francisco.
At the reception, Best clarified his perspective on his temples. He explained that this temple was not a work of art, but a functional space—an environment that can only be activated through participation. The structure is a mere container, a set condition, an invitation to co-create meaning. (Sound familiar? A certain city in the Nevada desert seems to function in the same way.)
Following Best’s suggestion here, this temple is not a temple, independently. It is only completed by interaction, by the supplement of our responses and reactions to it. This shifts the significance away from art as a commodity, as something given and taken from one individual to another, and onto the relationship between individuals. This humble approach to art-making takes the focus off the artist’s singular vision and onto shared intention, and in shared intention is the potential for real social change. We think this shift is one of the reasons why Best’s temples and other Civic Arts public art projects seem to mean so much to people. It’s our hope to help communities manifest works of public art that function for them, personally and communally.
While the event at Black Rock City is paid for by ticket sales, Burning Man’s Civic Art projects depend on the generosity of our community. Thanks to the support of our donors, we’re able to fund a wide variety of Burner-initiated programs and art projects like the new Temple at Patricia’s Green in other cities. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at donate.burningman.org.
This is one of my favorite stories about a piece of art.
After Michelangelo was commissioned to paint “The Last Judgment” on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican’s Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, examined the painting in progress and said it was shameful for a sacred work to depict nude bodies, and that it was a painting more fit for a public bath than the Holy See.
In revenge, Michelangelo gave one of the devils in hell da Cesena’s face, and added donkey ears. (Lower right hand corner: he’s also got a snake wrapped around him. Close-up below the jump.)
Da Cesena complained to the Pope, but His Holiness replied that there was nothing he could do, because this was a devil and his authority as Pontiff did not cover hell.
The painting remains on the wall of the Sistine Chapel to this day, viewed by millions of tourists each year, and while Da Cesena was a rich and powerful man at the time, the only reason we even remember his name today is because Michelangelo snubbed him.
Aside from being hilarious in its own right, this story sits right at the intersection between art, sacred culture, and commerce. Michelangelo was a hired gun, paid a lot of money to make sacred art by people there is every reason to think he didn’t particularly like or respect, and the result has become a fixture of western culture. (more…)
I wasn’t a Burner my first day at Burning Man or my second.
I wasn’t a Burner until my third day.
Wasn’t a Burner until I decided that I wanted to be the performer dancing for the crowd.
Wasn’t a Burner until I went to the Temple and cried as I let go of my self-hate, my insecurities, my anxieties.
Wasn’t a Burner until after writing on the Temple wall and growing I decided to gift the marker that had been gifted to me to a tattooed, bad-ass looking-mother-fucker, sitting outside the Temple.
Wasn’t a Burner until when I handed him the marker he looked up at me and started crying. And I sat and I heard his story, his pain and struggle. And I took a little of that struggle off his back with an open ear and a firm hug.
Wasn’t a Burner until I realized that with the tiniest act, I could change the world.
I’m a Burner now. I know where True Home is but I try my best to make everywhere I am Home, one open ear and firm hug at a time.
The days are getting warmer, tickets are showing up in the mail and the trolls are spreading mistruths online. Yes, it is that time of year again:Pre-Burn Season!
This is also the time of year that first timers start to ask for advice from their veteran Burner friends. I first send them to the fantastic survival guide, then to my tips & tricks videos (starting with the ones for Virgins). Then I pat their head, tell them it is all going to be okay, and share some version of the message below. In addition to bringing the right gear, it is important to bring the right attitude.
*This video was requested from participants of this year’s Midburn. It is worded in a way that applies to people heading to any event where Radical Self Expression and Gifting is embraced.
**If, after watching, you don’t feel drawn to attend this year, please sell your ticket back through official channels. There are many eager and well deserving people waiting for your ticket in the STEP program.
This year, the Man will be surrounded by an interactive Carnival Midway, featuring booths created and staffed by 32 Regional groups and artists from the US as well as Taiwan, China, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Canada, Argentina, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Japan and Russia. There will also be two performance stages and other carnivalesque art installations, completing this hyper-immersive center of burner-style Carny madness.
What to expect? Games of chance, cabinets of wonder, costumed characters, sleight of hand, lion tamers, showgirls, showboys, jesters, bearded ladies, bizarre creatures, mad professors, mysticism and of course, clowns! Enter at your own risk!! And be prepared for soul-baring, self-reflection, silliness and schtick.
Since 2011, we have engaged our Regionals at the center of the event. Over a three year period, in our Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) Project, fifty Regional groups produced over seventy installations, placed around the Man. Each of the Regional groups involved worked intensely to create sculptures representing their regions, which were enjoyed by our greater community and burned. Last year we increased the Regional presence by engaging willing groups in the creation of the Souk, an interactive marketplace surrounding the Man, who stood on the ground, surrounded by an energetic round-the-clock pageant of interactivity and social engagement. The greater Burner community was able to engage directly with our Regional groups, as well as witness their creations.
This year we invite you to immerse yourselves in another collaborative environment, full of possibilities for creative self-expression and engagement with our Regionals. Identify your inner Carny, create your character and be part of this rich global stew.
Reno artist David Boyer’s 2014 Burning Man kinetic wind sculpture Getting Your Bearings is now on display in Napa, California as part of the Napa ARTwalk public art program. This work is one of fourteen that will be on loan to the City of Napa for a period of two years. The work is #13 on the ARTwalk tour and is located next to the Napa River Inn just off the Riverfront walkway. For more information visit Napa ARTwalk.
David first shared work in Black Rock City in 2007 — a kinetic tree sculpture in the “Mangrove” surrounding the Man as part of the Green Man art theme. Burning Man Art’s Civic Arts program then funded a recreation of the Mangrove in Reno, Nevada. Aside from his many public art projects, he’s brought work out to the playa every year since.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of his creative process, as well as a hypnotic and beautiful portrait of Getting Your Bearings in this video clip:
Thank you, David, for your tireless contributions to BRC and to public art!