Pen Pals

I have a pen pal.

We’ve never met. Not in person, anyway. Well, not in the flesh, I mean. I find it hard to define what constitutes “in person” lately. It seems like a good bit of my person is having an out-of-body experience in a virtual world. And that’s where I met my pen pal.

We’re both Burners, of course. That’s how it started.

We met by the Internet’s water cooler, reading the same Burning Man posts and feeling giddy about summer coming on. Soon, we were sharing photos, little windows into each other’s days just 600 pixels wide.

That’s actually a pretty wide window into someone’s life, if it’s open and the blinds are drawn. Human beings are pretty vast, but we’re also vivid. A lot of light gets through even a tiny aperture, and our sensors are pretty sensitive.

Burners are not special in this way, but maybe we just tend to focus on the same scenes. It’s a startlingly immediate connection, a confluence of perspective, meeting a fellow Burner in the wild.

Not that I met my pen pal in the “default world” at all. I’m not ready to extend that burnerism to the Internet. That’s a little too @GreatDismal a vision of the future.

But wherever we are, screen names and avatars, we’re still living the principles, making normal moments into works of art and giving them to each other. Just because we can’t feel them doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and vice versa.

We can’t be all virtual, though. Our bodies have mass, and the enormous gravity of our eventual meeting at Burning Man exerts a powerful force.

“Will you be my pen pal?”, I asked in a direct message.

She said her heart skipped a beat when she read that. Strong stuff.

And now we make letters and send them to each other. It takes five days for them to traverse the west coast of the United States from south to north, and five again from north to south.

It’s incredible how, in 2011, this still-modern marvel feels like such a long wait. (more…)

Confused by Burning Man? You’re goddamn right you are!!!

Wait, that's ... that's not a Man. Where am I?

It might not be an overstatement to suggest that the single biggest challenge facing Burning Man as it transitions to a non-profit is explaining what-the-hell-it’s-good-for without making it sound like a therapy weekend or an erotic spa.

Why do we need to do this?  Well, one reason is that the Media Team frequently gets emails asking things like:

  • “What bands are playing at Burning Man this year?”
  • “How many stages do you have?”
  • “How do I get my act in your lineup?”

Telling these people to look at our website and see what we really do only leads to return emails saying “I still can’t find the bands!  Except, is one of them named Temple Burn?  Are they playing at the Arctica stage?  Is that the main stage?”

Actually, wow, “Temple Burn” is a pretty killer name for a band … I’m calling it.  It’s mine.  Get your own band.  You can be:  “Dust Storm.”

Actually, “Dust Storm” is a pretty good name too.  I’ll need it when “Temple Burn” kicks me out for creative differences.  Hands off.

Your band can be “Gift Economy.”  It’s kind of a folk-rock thing, very 60s influenced, writes a lot of songs about peace. (more…)

The Bike Bridge

A program participant of the Bike Bridge welds her bike in the welding course, hosted by The Crucible.
A program participant of the Bike Bridge paints her bike in the Art-Bike course, hosted by The Crucible

The [BRAF] is thrilled to announce the award of $10,000 granted from the National Endowment for the Arts for our newest project, The Bike Bridge. This new project, which launched in April of 2011, is the next evolution of our community-focused public art projects. This educational and creative program is designed specifically to engage youth living on Oakland, California.

The Bike Bridge is a collaboration with the youth of Oakland, artist Michael Christian (who has been creating art for the Playa for many years), and with partner organization The Crucible. The 12 enrolled participants, all young women, begin the project with classes in welding and art-bicycle creation, generously hosted by The Crucible. The program culminates in the collaborative creation of a large-scale sculpture made entirely of reclaimed bicycle parts, led by Christian.

In the second phase of the project, artist Christian will work with The Crucible’s instructors and the youth participants to design a “skeleton” structure that can later be embellished by the youths. These embellishments will be made of reclaimed bicycle parts, connecting with “green,” urban bike culture and tapping into the exciting, creative buzz around “art” bikes.

The Bike Bridge sculpture is designed to be the centerpiece of the City of Oakland’s new Uptown Merritt Art Park, to be located adjacent to the Fox Theater in the city’s newly revitalized Uptown district. The City of Oakland was also awarded an N.E.A. grant, in the amount of $200,000, a portion of which will fund the development of the new park. Plans pending, The Bike Bridge sculpture will act as a gateway to the park, which will also feature temporary exhibitions of large-scale works of art.

N.E.A.’s grant of $10,000 sets this ambitious project in motion. Fundraising efforts are underway to meet the project’s overall budget of $60,000.

Read more about the project and about the grant from the National Endowment for the Arts press release

See more photos of works in progress on our flickr page

The Bike Bridge project is funded in part by a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts. The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government that has awarded more than $4 billion on projects of artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the National Endowment for the Arts at arts.gov.

photos courtesy of the Crucible

Halcyon’s Unofficial Tips & Tricks #2

In this classic 2007 video we address: WATER, ICE BAGS, KICKSTANDS, POST-PLAYA OUTFITS, NOTES, & BATHROOM BAGS!

These tips are solely the views of Halcyon & Shonda and do not represent the The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.

Stay tuned for more tips! Have some tips? Share in the comments!

Earthalujah Explained!

[Editor’s Note: For those of you unfamiliar with him, Reverend Billy is a New York-based performance artist whose work speaks to the heart of Burning Man’s principles of decommodification and radical self-expression. He was a Burning Man honorarium artist in 2003, where he performed in front of the Man as part of that year’s “Beyond Belief” art theme. Enjoy!]

Reverend Billy’s brilliantly bombastic, boldly brief Earthalujah sermons — now available as a podcast! Watch more episodes and subscribe at revbilly.com/podcast

 

Sometimes people come up to me and ask “The Church of Earthalujah…what is that? Is it a political rally? Is it a real church? Is it a comedy sketch? What is it?!”

Question: Is consumerism, is consumption, is consuming too much killing us right now? Yes it is. In the Church of Earthalujah we are definitely fighting consumerism. And that starts with the flags, the banners of consumerism are labels. There’s a label on every product, Amen! So, let’s not label anything. Let’s get beyond labels – that’s the devil!

We have an Earth crisis right now that we can’t label. In the old days it seems like there used to be people who would run down to the village common and shout “there’s an emergency here!” The traditional town crier. Someone should be shouting “Hey! The atmosphere! Too much heat! Extinction! Everything’s dying! Do something!” Where’s that person now? There seems to be a giant hush from the governments, celebrities, corporations, religions, armies – all the people who are supposed to be leading us. There’s a hush because they don’t have the right labels. But they look around them and they see what we all see: fires, floods, tsunamis, quakes, typhoons, tornadoes…Yes! That is the town crier! That is the force that is so powerful it’s chasing the God-forsaken celebrities off the front page of the newspaper. And that is the Earth itself getting our attention, and killing some of us.

In the Church of Earthalujah we regard these events as expressions, as words, as communications from a living being. The Earth is talking to us not just through these tragedies but every time we love each other, the Earth is whispering in our ear. When we walk out across a field on a beautiful day the Earth is alive.

Lets continue to live here. Let us ask the Earth to teach us to save the Earth and save ourselves. Amen.

Protect our playa culture: Art Vikings Want YOU!

 

 

Paaaaaaarty!

I saw the eBay auction, and I dreamt of Vikings on the playa.

Art Vikings, who sail across Burning Man to pillage their natural enemies, and possibly steal their meat.

By now, many of you have seen the eBay auction too (it’s old news).  For $95,000 a group of 10 can be given the “ultimate Burning Man experience,” renting campers, an art car, and staff members to pick up after them … effectively outsourcing the values of “self-sufficiency” and “creativity” to hired help.

This automatically creates comedy.  One has to laugh when the auction notes that the company will provide: (more…)

Ghana ThinkTank – Developing the First World

The Ghana ThinkTank is one of [BRAF]’s 2011 grant recipients, and is developing the First World. Ghana Thinktank is a worldwide network of think tanks creating strategies to resolve local problems in the “developed” world. The network is composed of people from all walks of life and levels of expertise and began with groups in Ghana, Cuba and El Salvador. It has since expanded to include Serbia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Iran, and a group of incarcerated girls in the U.S. prison system.

These think tanks analyze First World problems and propose solutions, which are enacted in the community where the problems originated – whether those solutions seem impractical or brilliant. The success or failure of the solutions is documented and sent back to the think tanks, initiating another round of dialogue and action. For exhibitions, The Ghana Thinktank manifests as elaborate installations that document the entire process and involve audience participants in each step.

The Ghana ThinkTank in Corona involves a custom-built teardrop trailer designed to journey into different locales in the “First” world, collecting community and personal issues, and sending them to think tanks in Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Serbia, Iran, Afghanistan, and others…

Once we receive the solutions, our trailer rolls back into the communities, this time as a mobile workstation, so that we can work with community members to apply the solutions we have received from our global network of think tanks.

The Ghana Think Tank operates in Corona May 21 – Aug 14.

El Ghana ThinkTank en Corona utiliza un remolque hecho a la medida para viajar entre los diferentes niveles del “Primer mundo.” El remolque sirve de punto de recogida para problemas de la comunidad y asuntos personales. Despues de la fase de collección las problemas serán eviadas a nuestra red de gabinetes estrategicos en Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, México, Serbia, Irán, y Afganistán para ser resueltas.

Una vez que recibamos las soluciones, nuestro remolque volverá a las comunidades de Corona, esta vez como una estación de trabajo móvil para aplicar las soluciones que hemos recibido.

El Ghana ThinkTank opera en Corona desde mayo 21 hasta agosto 14.

The Ghana ThinkTank in Corona is supported by the Queens Museum of Art, Creative Time, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, and The Greenwall Foundation. Additional funding provided by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.

Otic Oasis – A Wilderness Outpost on Playa

Otic Oasis Concept Drawing (click to enlarge)

Now and again, amongst the incredible things that are headed to the playa, something particularly interesting comes across our radar, and we like to bring those to your attention.  The Otic Oasis fits the bill. Its planners write:

“The Otic Oasis is not an art installation or theme camp, it is our community defining a need and all of us contributing to make it happen!  During our residence in Black Rock City, we all experience the ubiquitous thump/thump of the deep bass beat of the electronic/trance/Burning Man branded music 24/7. This year, there’s a new installation that intends to bring citizens an audio antidote by providing an alternative of peace and quiet. The OTIC OASIS will be the first structure in a cordoned off wilderness area in the City, a part of the City where no motorized vehicles are permitted and large scale sound systems don’t penetrate – deep in walk-in camping. At last, a wilderness retreat where the aural options are in keeping with the indigenous stillness and aesthetics of the Black Rock desert.

If embraced by the community, the OTIC OASIS is intended to be a perennial structure: to return each year, as the Center Camp Cafe does, to continue to provide shade and shelter to weary travelers who might require a bit of tranquility in order to recharge.

(more…)