Completing the Pistil
48 hours after the Otic Oasis crew entered the Man Base to build the Pistil, the last of a tirad of finials atop the piece were put into place. The Pistil is composed of Gregg Fleishman’s interlocking wooden pieces and it spans most of the middle of the Man Pavilion, climbing up to just below where the Man stands above over the open oculus. It’s an elegant sculpture that swirls around in a series of modules connected by stairways with a flowing symmetry suggesting both a honeycomb and very much this year’s theme of Fertility.
Scott and Gregg with a node
The crew climbed all over the sculpture working, and as the last pistil top was lowered, there were many deft fingers in there making adjustments, with bodies intertwined, twisting and raising the graceful piece into place. When the node slid down to a stop there was applause. Then one by one, curved vertical pieces were inserted and pins placed, then each crew member took a turn knocking the pins into place with their mallets. It was all very deliberate and with the absence of power tools, it seemed very ritualistic and beautiful to behold. Read more »
Flux Foundation’s Zoa, photo by portaplaya
The ARTery is in full swing, with projects beginning to pour in by the truckload. Where once was open playa and the original four projects with their encampments, now a cornucopia of projects grows every day. Bands of dusty artists arrive in caravans following long trucks packed with wood and steel and those artists are beginning to match the population of those building Black Rock City. Flux is here setting up Zoa, the EGO project, Reno Star Cosmic Thistle and Anubis among other pieces are all placed and building, rising up like tiny desert tribes, settled in and circling whatever tall idol they’re erecting.
Zoa, photo by portaplaya
Out at Zoa Flux heavy equipment (HEAT) was helping to put together the three steel structures that are the underlying “sculptural array” for the project. They’re named Billy, Etta and Nina and large star shaped wooden pieces that will form part of their wooden Seapod exoskeletons lay off to the side awaiting numerous adjustments, placements, riggings and gas lines installations before being fitted to the outsides. Flux is a whirr of energy with crews working all over and last night and tonight they’re testing flame effects. Jess Hobbs was out there and she had a button her hat that read “Chaos is my Bitch” and Masha showed us the orb on Etta that she’d cut from a huge pipe then shaped and sculpted. Zoa is located past the Man, before the Temple out toward 2:00 and will be burning Wednesday night at 9:00.
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Exodus photo by Danger Ranger
You know how every year when you leave Burning Man after partying your butt off, interacting with amazing art, seeing your friends and making new ones, and wandering around an amazing city unlike any you’ve ever encountered that magically rises up out of a prehistoric lakebed; you go home and take a shower and maybe have a beer and think about how great that was? Well, there are people still out in those dust storms and that searing heat making sure everything is torn down, stowed and shipped and any little bits of trash you possibly, accidentally were inconsiderate about not taking home with you are being all picked up so we can throw this little event again next year.
DA and crew, photo by fling93
I was talking with DA who runs the Playa Restoration (or Resto) Crew and he told me how when the event is over they spend weeks tearing down Black Rock City’s structures and then walking miles each day in the sun over grids, making sure to pick up every last bit of trash that may have made it to the playa floor. The goal is to leave the playa as clean as it was before the event and it is hard, grueling work. They start early in the morning and DA tells me that around 3:15 in the afternoon someone will invariably yell “Morale!” and the crew will stop, go to the shade and drink a couple cold beers and eat some snacks. This makes the remaining two hours go by faster.
That beer and snacks are donated by you, kind citizen of Black Rock City.
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Yes, as you’ve heard, Black Rock City’s infrastructure is coming along nicely due to the efforts of our valiant DPW. We’re seeing shade structures going up for the various Burning Man departments and we experienced a little population bump yesterday when people began arriving to ramp up their departments like Gate, ESD and Greeters. The Center Camp Café structure is built thanks to Monkeyboy and his team who pretty much worked with such efficiency and focus to build a structure that provided shade to continue working beneath, that it made me stop several times just to take in the talent and skill that oozed off them. Now Café décor is moving in and containers are being unloaded of dusty couches, carpet and other pieces of the Café.
Greeters collating – photo portaplaya
We’ve arrived at that point where all the departments moved over to their own channels from the main DPW channel. Those once quiet nowhere channels are now chattering with communications for things like Art Placement, Gate and IT. Main Gate at 8 mile is complete, at least six lanes wide leading from the new Gate to Greeters and the lanes are set with traffic cones like candy corn as far as the eye can see. It is all brand new awaiting your thousands of conveyances, empty and neat and clean, except for all the dust of course. Currently there are 30 Greeters in a container out there collating 70 thousand maps, “What Where When” guides and other things to give to you when you finally make it through the gate wait next week.
Random weird quotes abound around here these days. Moving about town I met Anika who was making a stencil “Practice Sustainable Jackassery,” Jackassery being a predominant pre event meme. At breakfast I shook a guy’s hand who said, “I’m Dustin” and I laughed then told him that was a good playa name. He said, “Oh, no my playa name is V.D. You might want to wash your hands” so I laughed … then washed my hands in the Tunnel of Love. As they passed along, someone said, “We put the DP in DPW.” New groups from different departments are moving in, setting up shade and generally staking their space that was so empty only 3 days ago. The hive mind is alive and buzzing.
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What follows is a short photo essay of last night’s Early Burn. These photos and captions are from Todd “portaplaya” Gardiner, who will be working with some of the bloggers here during the event this year.
The Early Burn is a celebration of the accomplishments of the staff and volunteers. Many of the people out this early have been building the event for more than two weeks without a day off. and this short event allows each team to make an expression of their specific contribution and provides an evening of R&R before going into the last week before the event opens.
Small core teams of artists were formed by various larger groups. The projects are rather competitive and the results range from crass to classy. The next few photos show what these builders created in two day’s time, often from scrap materials.
an Angel from EGO
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Bucky placing art
I’ve got my feet in several worlds this year on playa, working for the ARTery, documenting art projects to share with you all, and I’m doing some placement with the Artist Support Services (ASS) folks and I’m pretty much there to do whatever else they want me to. I’m also helping out with some Tech stuff since in my year round job I work on this here web site about the whole Burning Man thing. My ARTery mentor is Awesome Sauce, and yesterday, under her steady tutelage, I had the pleasure of placing my first art project EVER, Otic Oasis.
My most awesome mentor, Awesome Sauce
Basically the ARTery places art once you hit the playa with your project. You roll into the ARTery and register, and then one of our team will set a time to take you out on the playa with what is called a “floofy” which sounds like “flew fee” with the plural being “floofies”. The ARTery has a rigid lexicon to describe what they do.
There are two main reasons for registering your ART. First and most obvious is to have a map of where the projects are, so people searching for them can find them, and secondly to be able to list projects on the MOOP map to make sure we all Leave No Trace.
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The Pier trucked in
With less than two weeks before the event starts, some of the largest art is here already setting up. There’s four so far, David Best’s Temple beyond Man Base, Otto Von Danger’s Burn Wall Street around 9:00 off from the Man, the Man Base and the Pier 2 who showed up Tuesday night and are placed at 4:30 and Esplanade.
I’m following the art this year on playa and one thing I really like about Burning Man artists is that they’re building not only huge things to enthrall you participants, both with physical interaction, and some will burn the whole thing eventually, but they do it in the middle of this harsh desert as just an extra, “Oh and if that wasn’t enough”.
Pier 2 survey
Matt Schultz and Paul of the Pier rolled into our newly shaded ARTery from the Salvagery in Reno. Some of their wood came along with the Burn Wall Street crew when they came in over the weekend . If you missed the Pier last year, it was a magical stroll along an actual pier above our dry lake bed, complete with the ambiance sounds of water below, dinghies, a Master Bait and Tackle shop and people fishing at the end. It was pretty fun hanging out with others on the pier. This year I’m told by Orlin and Fish that a Spanish Galleon has crashed into the end of the pier and it will feature a Captain’s Room, a main room, crew quarters with hammocks and a stowage area. Also this year you’ll want to have a fishing license and have it stamped if you’re going to fish.
The Pier structure built
They’d set up camp the night before (in one of the four storms we’ve had in the last 4 days), surveyed the project footprint and were busily unloading trucks full of props as wood was being moved over from Burn Wall Street’s Camp. We met with them when they went over some engineering aspects of the piece yesterday afternoon and they were intent of finishing the Pier part of their project by midnight last night. If the crew could finish by midnight last night, they would get a keg of beer. Despite the total white out from 8 to 9:30ish, they finished at 11:55 and there was beer all around. Now they will build the ship and I hear it is amazing from the artist who worked with them in Reno.
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Commissary Dust Night
A dust storm Sunday night at dinner came on like a monolithic white swirling entity with enough force to sand blast the surface of Mars and the huge Commissary tent where we ate creaked and shivered. You could hear the plywood walls out back straining against buckling as the Commissary crew and us ran into the white out to tighten straps and ropes, attempting to keep her from launching. Brad, the drink Man from Spectrum said he’d rushed out to the kitchen tents to keep them in place.
Afterward, as always, those pounding white walls of grit cleared like passing phantoms and glorious towering clouds hung over the mountain range to the west, moving slowly in the darkening sky into a long twilight of infinite sunsets.
And the Commissary cleaned up.
Drink Man Brad standing
Much has been most eloquently written of the DPW by Mr. Curley who’s captured the spirit and tenacity, the skill and true steel forged strength of these roughnecks who build Black Rock City and also the raising of the Commissary Tent. I can attest, after being here as DPW is setting up structure after structure in the 100 plus degree heat, working hard to set up the template upon which you will bring your insanity, that they do, indeed, deserve your beer.
However, I’ve been hanging out at the Commissary, helping Mr. Barcoderino and Sgt. Slaughter set up meal databases and meeting Hayseed’s crew of 10 or so people plus the Spectrum folks who are doing the cooking and they’re all actually also pretty baddass.
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