Welcome to the BIG CITY and BRIGHT LIGHTS, where it is said “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” and in Black Rock City by “it” I mean ART and by “make it there” I mean live, breathe, eat, sleep, follow your vision, work your ass off, raise your money, maintain cohesion in your group, create your dream and behold it there.
Then take a breath and load your trucks and GET OUT TO THE PLAYA to work another week or more in circumstances only someone as MAD as a Burning Man Artist could appreciate to put the thing up, all for the sake of GIFTING IT and SHARING your VISION with all of our FAIR CITY.
We are all like 40 THOUSAND moths attracted to those ENCHANTING PLAYA LIGHTS, twinkling and glowing all alone in the dark expanse, and the essence of ART is CREATION and CREATION is the ACTION of MAGIC.
So to this year’s ARTISTS, I say THANK YOU for your MAGICAL GIFTS, one and all.
This year our esteemed CITY FATHER, MR. LARRY HARVEY has suggested that we consider the theme of METROPOLIS, which is fitting considering the URBAN WONDER of our temporary COSMOPOLITAN silt alkaline jungle. I dare say that with 250+ LISTED ART PROJECTS, our fair ‘BURG has more art per square inch than most, and there is always room for more.
And, like in all GREAT CITIES, what is better than putting on your VAGABOND SHOES and joyously joining in the workaday hustle of our citizens on their way in the bustle of the boulevard, crossing busy streets in-step, wearing anti-uniforms of surreal gem embellished decoration, some naked painted and sparkling, others taking the forms of bizarre articulated machines or fuzzy bunnies.
What is better that TAKING IN SOME ART in Black Rock City while all around you the CITY RUMBLES with mutant vehicles and such delicious insanity; all carnival stilted, steam punk chaos tilted, flaming, blinking and at most times animated by passing clamorous groups of merry rabble rousers and otherwise exotic PEDESTRIANS. It is a place where the BOHEMIANS are the ones to gentrify the DPW Warehouse, CARP District and “DOWNTOWN” with VIOLENT HAPPY FIRE BELCHING FUN MACHINES. But the gentry here are a dusty sort, sordid and disorderly, a bunch of madmen and malcontents and the only thing that will RUN THE ARTISTS OUT of this town will be the artists themselves when the whole thing is over in however many days.
From UPTOWN to CITY CENTER, yes, this year, there will be ART from the AIRPORT through the BLM gated communities, up and into the SUBURBAN ROWS AND ROWS of RV housing to the TENEMENT TENT WARDS. ART will sprout in the new OUTER PLAZAS. ART will flourish from the MID-TOWN 420 DISTRICT, out the KEYHOLE, up the ESPLANADE and all the way to the TRASH FENCE.
And did I mention this year we even have PIGEONS! You’ll see them all over. And there is a GIANT pigeon too!
So START SPREADING THE WORD, it’s time to get all Black Rock Citified, if you aren’t ZONING out and ART is right up your ALLEY, well here you go. I’ve spent some time reading about this year’s art and listening to Anarchist Jim’s EXCELLENT AUDIO TOURS so, for now, “LET us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky” to:
MOZE’S TOP TEN ART PROJECTS AND THEN SOME
1. INFINITARIUM by Big Art, Oakland, CA (American Steel)
I was lucky enough to speak with Karen Cusolito recently who told me this project is just as it is described, a highly interactive environment that is indeed an ACRE WIDE so as to make some impact on the playa. Karen and her crew have shown how to create an impact with other large scale art like 2007’s Crude Awakening and 2005’s Passage. INFINITARIUM is a GARDEN of beautiful sculptures with fire at night including “THE LOVERS” which is two huge steel leaves with running colored methanol fire water dripping from one to the other. Other close up and amazing sculptures include THE FLEUR and TRUMPETS. It sounds like a WONDERLAND of proportions you can only find on the playa. Please wander there.
2. THE TEMPLE OF FLUX by Rebecca Anders, Jessica Hobbs, Peter Kimelman and Crew, Berkeley, CA
This is the 10th anniversary of the Temple at Black Rock City and this year the newly formed Flux Foundation has taken up the mantle of creating an intimate space for “remembrance, catharsis, and rebirth” while at the same time building the “largest temple in Burning Man’s 25-year history”. Built at American Steel in Oakland, the Temple of Flux looks to be a LARGE CANYON with spaces for reflection, inside tall lumber walls slightly windswept with unique woodwork. The BURN is going to be very interesting. This is going to be a TEMPLE LIKE NONE OTHER and if anyone can pull off an entirely re-imagined Temple, this most capable group of people are the ones to do it. I know a TON of work has gone into building it and it is currently on its way to the playa and is overcoming issues with funding. If you would like to participate and lend them a hand, or just get a preview of the project, visit their site.
3. DR. MEGAVOLT “Back by popular demand for his 7th Burning Man appearance, Megavolt is legendary on the playa. The show involves authentic stunt work that is inherently dangerous and very real – it is an antidote for the continued march towards a simulated world of CGI effects and virtual reality.” If you haven’t seen the Dr of the TESLA COIL, this is your year. He’s mesmerizing and terrifying and I love the smell of ozone on the playa.
4. MEGATROLPOLIS – Return to Hellco and DESTRUCTION on a FROGBAT scale? A city skyline of six buildings that “will cover 5,000SQFT within a Satellite City that Covers 15,000SQFT at approximately 2,000FT directly behind The Temple.” Yea, let’s BURN IT ALL. This one will leave Burn scars for sure, or not since they actually raised enough money for DG to prevent playa scarring. Seriously, this is a METROPOLIS CATHARSIS, brought, built and burnt by those who help build Black Rock City from the get go. I imagine it will be much like the DPW parade on ART and whatever else they’re on, in charge of even more FIRE than usual. From their site: “We burn on Friday night between 9 and 10 pm… bring your heatshields and prepare to have your beers explosively warmed up – mEGATROPOLIS will BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURN!!!!!!”
Don’t miss this one or they’ll kick your ass.
5. The MAN HIMSELF – The Man sits atop the PAVILION OF THE MAN this year, an artistic icon atop an architectural icon. I am told that the MAN this year is adorned as always with the love of craftsmen outfitting their work and with a silver reflective chest and other accents he hasn’t had before. Around the MAN, in the style of Masons who built the Cathedrals, will be Dana Albany’s GARGOYLES and GRIFFINS. You know those Masons built gargoyles to resemble the builders of the sanctified places, yes? Also, look for the lightning bolts on the Man.
6. MINARET – I admit, I love Mr. Tedrick’s sculptures. They are huge and sublime creations that make me stop and stare at their beauty every time I’ve seen them. I encountered his work first in 2008 with Spread Eagle, then last year with his Portal of Evolution that recreated the female reproductive system for all to climb on whether he planned it or not. If last year Mr. Tedrick built a female expression, this year’s MINARET appears to be decidedly male and it is built to handle climbing participants. I’ve also been hoping for a BLOW YOUR MIND KEYHOLE for a while, and Mr. Z. Coffin’s 2005 Colossus is stuck in my brain for some reason. But this year it seems as if Mr. Tedrick may be bringing something to that CENTRAL CIVIC KEYHOLE SPACE to solidify and NAIL ITS PLACE IN THE COSMOS for the week we’re out there. Minaret stands at 50’ and “can be scaled externally to the midpoint, then entered into and climbed to the top.”
7. Let out a huge playa yalp for SYZYGRYD by Interpretive Arson who brought you 2piR and Dance Dance Immolation and for False Profit Labs from Oakland’s NIMBY collective. I’ve been watching False Profit for a while with their 2008 Hydrogen Economy and PyroCardium, then last year’s Carbon Garden and this year looks to be pretty amazing. The project is a TOWN SQUARE WITH COLLABORATIVE MUSIC AND FLAMETHROWERS. They write, “It’s a public space, it’s a sculpture, and it’s a musical instrument. It’s the most beautiful expression we can imagine of the joy we take in community, music, technology, fire, sculpture and architecture,” and it looks to be their most ambitious project to date. Check it out here.
8. BLISS DANCE – at 40 feet, this sculpture “celebrates humanity and shows the FEMININE BEAUTY, POWER and STRENGTH that emerges when women are safe and free to be themselves”. I like the scale and the beauty of this sculpture. Plus, you can watch them building it here. More about the project is also here.
9. EIN HAMMER – this one looks pretty cool. Check out their video on the website. It is LOUD and there’s a lot of FIRE. The movement and effects require teamwork to make happen, so who knows if people will be able to figure it out, but if they do great things will happen. The project is brought to you by Mister JellyFish, part of the APOKILIPTIKA and builder of 2008’s ZsuZsu: The Crybaby Drama Queen (among many other very cool things). They’ve brought some pretty awesome project to the playa, including one of my favorites, the Mantis Project. More here.
10. For the shuffling, shuttering, bicycling or otherwise conveyance driven citizen, I must include the KINETIC CAB COMPANY which will feature the “Tin Pan Dragon” by Duane Flatmo. Weighing in at 597 pounds, bicycle powered, seating four and made from mostly recycled metal, it is one of the coolest MUTANT VEHICLES ever to grace the playa. AND it BREATHES FIRE. It will be accompanied by Mr. Flatmo’s latest recycled contraption “the Crustation Wagon”. During daylight hours they will offer rides around the Black Rock metropolis.
Ah, Ten Projects, but there is SO MUCH MORE. Since we are speaking of MUTANT VEHICLES, this year there is no shortage of HOMAGES to METROPOLITAN MEANS OF TRAVEL including, INTERSECTIONS, SUBWAYS, BUS STOPS and a NOWHERE2NOWHERE MONORAIL by Helen Cook from, Seattle. It appears that this will be a 500 ft long track with an actual monorail participants can ride. The monorail folks were asking for art submissions on their site for installations to put along the 500 ride, so hopefully some of that happened.
As far as just PURE BEAUTY, I mentioned the Temple and the Minaret above, but also be on the lookout for KATE RAUDENBUSH’s FUTURE’S PAST, an “angular black steel roots of modern computer circuitry in the shape of a stepped pyramid give way to the ancient roots of a sacred Bodhi tree” and once again, the MOST BEAUTIFUL TRAVELING VICTORIAN HOUSE to ever grace the playa, NEVERWAS HAUL by Shannon O’Hare is returning. “Damn the blinkies, Steam ahead!” If you haven’t seen this creature of the playa, check it out here.
As a sidenote, I must mention some of the OTHER CITY THEMED ART projects you may have missed. This year I hear the SPARE A CIGARETTE OR A BEER HIPPIE HAIGHT STREET PROJECT will be performing their usual scampish hi-jinx in Center Camp Café. Also, a crowd favorite, TRAFFIC JAM is a large scale highly interactive project that begins Monday morning at 12:01 am and will run until all citizens have left BLACK ROCK CITY. Expect to see this one in unexpected places to amaze and delight you and as always, feel free to PARTICIPATE.
Also expect to encounter NIGHT OF THE JACKASS at least once as you walk our FAIR CITY. This installation involves a playfully rude person who appears to be drunk and tore up from the floor up and who is looking for trouble. This is the SISTER PROJECT to the Federally and State funded IMMEDIATE AND MASSIVE INTERACTION WITH THE POLICE. Be sure to miss this one.
Other NOTABLES for your enjoyment:
HARD TO TOP DICKY IN THE BOX: This year I hear our FIRST TIMERS ART on the playa includes DESERTROPOLIS by Amy Lewis and Guy Morell, described as “one hundred modern bastakiya.. at varying distances from each other, the wind towers undulate as they condense throughout the playa” and a “field of white structures”. Look for it.
OHH THE COLORS at NIGHT: Everyone’s favorite GLOWY BLINKIE CUBATRON thing returns as a 40ft tall diamond shaped incarnation this year – the DIAMOND IN THE SKY aka the DIAMOND TOWER by Mark Lottor. To some it is NIRVANA, to others it is an ETARD BUGZAPPER. I like it. You decide.
AND FINALLY, LIKE ANY FINE CITY, there are a whole bunch of PLAYA-GROUND PARKS and green “open spaces” including Benches, Benchly, Park Porch by Jon Morris, Park Life by Kimchi Camp and assorted CIVIC MEETING PLACES like The Crossroads by Iron Monkeys, Aeolian Pyrophonic Hall & Whispering Wall, by Capra J’neva and Urban Stoop by Craig Cooper and James Dufour. We have Football and FiFA soccer installations along with Skypad Apartments by Bob Mazewski, an intriguing looking large green MANT FARM by the Sober Free Society from Seattle, and bars like the Moonshine Sunrise by Thomas Haan and eggchtropolis bAR(T) by EggchairSteve and Crew.
There are a TON of other projects and like I said, these just caught my eye. So get out there and check out the ART this year and HAVE A GREAT BURN.
And did I mention we’ve got PIGEONS?