Three days before the event begins, I am most pleased to report to you that this year’s ART is sprouting up like playa fire flowers all around our beloved Black Rock City. Everywhere one hears the sounds of drills and hammers, grinders and heavy equipment and the white hot crackle of acetylene torches at night beneath huge floodlights. The communal unloading, lifting and erecting is moving forward full force. Some many crews of artists haven’t stopped working since they hit the playa.
In a post apocalyptic world, there is a difference between surviving and surviving in style. In our desolate lake bed, we are surviving very much in style.
I was able to pull myself away from the alternating working and cocktail parties to take a stroll around and visit with the artists and take in some of this year’s installations.
The Man on his Tangled Bank
The Man is atop a Tangled Bank this year. A forest of nailed wooden organic shapes surround him and create a space we haven’t ever seen in the Man base. The trees, or flames, or crystals, or dancers or whatever they look like to you suggest a small homage to the Belgian Waffle of years past. Whatever it is, I like it and true to the theme, it’s definitely a fresh evolution of the Man’s surroundings.
Currently the lighting, including a double helix that winds around the Man pole, and other Evolutionary Mud bug sculptures are being installed below.
The Man lighting crew, Spanky, Trademark, Wizard Wonka, Kimmy Kat and GoGo in the Tangled Bank.
The Flaming Lotus Girls’, Soma looks to be structurally pretty much fully built and I was told they were almost ready to bring in their techies to bring it to life. I spoke with Peter and Tim of Gee-Gnome, an offshoot of the Flaming Lotus Girls, and they have much of their fire and electronics ready for their piece. And Fishbug aka Chimera Sententia looks just as creepy as I envisioned it, sitting there over by the road to the 3:00 plaza. All three of these installations are placed in the same general area, to the right of the main walkway to the Man from Center camp. If the Flaming Lotus Girls are a University where Fire Artists get their degrees, they are producing some amazing graduates, and as Peter said, “We all like Art and we all like fire”, so it makes sense.
Soma by the Flaming Lotus Girls
Chimera Sententia aka Fishbug, by Rebecca Anders & Jessica Hobbs
The Flame Thrower Shooting Gallery is coming along nicely and Bill Codding and his Burninator Grid are to the right of the Man. The Grid promises to be pretty impressive. They’ve arranged their huge tanks relatively close together and participants will be able to walk through as the Grid is controlled by a conductor on a raised stage in the middle. There is Fire this yea,r people. Prepare to get your Fire Art fix.
FlameThrower Shooting Gallery by Matisse Enze
The Raygun Gothic Rocketship is standing tall and its silver metallic skin gleams in the sun. There is a large crew of people working on it and when I stopped by they were working on the inside, putting in the first floor which is a red see-through resin. One of their crew, Talia says looks like it is made of red Jolly Ranchers. Three floors will eventually be built out and participants will be able to tour the Rocketship, where, among other cool things, you will be able to see the high voltage glass tubes inside. They’re circling the Rocketship with the L2k lights and listen for the Victory Sirens from the Crude Awakening year. Friday is lift off. Be there.
It is located towards the 9:00 plaza road.
Raygun Gothic Rocketship by Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor, David Shulman, John Manyjohns (and many others)
Other fantastic projects I visited are the Fire of Fires aka the Temple. This year there is a Fire Vortex in the middle of the Temple and I was told that they tested it last night and it works, which is very very cool to behold. In the outer playa, to the left of the Temple, we chanced upon the crew of The Nest of Recollection by Matthew Schultz and Kevan Christiaens from Reno. The piece is the Bird Man’s living room and it’s definitely worth checking out when you’re out there. Nice people.
I was also very fortunate to be there when the Portal of Evolution by Bryan Tedrick was being completed as its huge wings were being placed by a crane atop the installation. This piece is sublime and beautiful. The Portal will have fire effects at night and will stand out as one of the most beautiful pieces on the playa this year.
Portal of Evolution by Bryan Tedrick.
The weather has been a bit challenging these last two days, so let us wish the best to all the artists out here who are spending grueling days building their installations to share with all of Black Rock City. To put so much of your time and energy into bringing your Art to life for this brief week of impermanence, to execute and share your Art, well, all I can say is, we are definitely in for a treat this year.
all images by Moze