The 2011 Temple of Transition: Cross-Continental Collaboration

When the Temple of Transition burns on Sunday night of this year’s Burning Man event, it will be both a cathartic release for participants and a celebration of what might be the playa’s most internationally collaborative project to date.

The driving force behind this year’s Temple of Transition, The International Arts Megacrew (IAM), is comprised of artists from literally all over the world. Project Co-Leads Diarmo Horkan, Beav, Roamer and Kiwi hail from Dublin, Ireland, London, UK and Auckland, New Zealand and have assembled a crew of over 100 Burners and artists from Australia, London, San Francisco, Vancouver, and many other cities in between.

As Diarmo sat across the table from me here at Burning Man Headquarters a few weeks ago on his way from Dublin to Reno, NV, his eyes beamed brightly as he talked about the crew’s transcontinental Skype meetings and the ways in which the Burner community has rallied around this exciting project. The seed for this year’s temple was planted at the 2010 event when the crew brought their massive project, Megatropolis, to the playa. “We looked around and thought, we can do this even bigger and better,” Diarmo reflected, “It’s time.” Before their fit left the playa, plans were set in motion for this ambitious artistic collaboration.

The IAM has set up shop at Hobson Square in Reno, NV and crewmembers have already started physical labor on the Temple. Throughout the Summer, new crew members will arrive in Reno and get straight to work. After their long days, many of the workers will enjoy the gracious hospitality of Haggy at The Black Rock International Burner Hostel in Reno. For updates on the progress of this year’s Temple, visit http://temple2011.org/.

On Wednesday, May 25th, 2011, the Temple of Transition crew will host a FIRE SALE and a Meet n Greet at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco from 6-10pm. There will be music, mingling, an auction, a raffle, and the opportunity to hear more about this amazing project from Kiwi and Diarmo. For more information, visit: http://temple2011.org/fire-sale-at-the-bently-reserve/.

Lithuania Joins the Regional Network!

It is with great pleasure that The Regionals Committee announces Lithuania as the newest country to join the Regional Network, and the first of the Baltic States to be added to our World Map!

While it’s no surprise that Burners are everywhere, we were particularly intrigued when our new Lithuanian Regional Contact, Geidrius Kavaliauskas aka “Goku” first wrote the Burning Man office about a year ago to express his interest in the Regional Contact role. Not only did Lithuania seem like an exotic place for Burner culture to emerge but the group of about 40 Burners and artists that has formed over the past few years in the capital city of Vilnius seemed to be working hard to integrate the ethos of Black Rock City with that of their Baltic home. The “LT Burners” (as they are known on Facebook) are using a blend of performance, ritual, film and interactive art to educate Lithuanians about Burning Man and Burners about Lithuanian culture.

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Hawaii Part Two: O’ahu Boogaloo

Burning Man, Hawaiian style...the Ka Palina flag

“O’ahu” is Hawaiian for “The Gathering Place.” In keeping with its name, I found O’ahu to be the most diverse Hawaiian island I visited and also the most cosmopolitan. The pristine beaches and lush hills are sharply contrasted by the skyscrapers, highways, and factories of Honolulu and its surrounding areas. Amidst this duality, one finds business moguls, adventurous tourists, surfers and wayward souls who fled “The Mainland” for O’ahu and decided to stay. Such was the case with our two O’ahu Burning Man Regional Contacts, Geoff Hearl and Andi Cuniberti as well as with many other Burning Man participants who have created a home for themselves on this island in the middle of the Pacific.

In a dedicated effort to bring the Burners on O’ahu together and to keep the Burning Man spirit alive year-round, Andi and Geoff offer a warm welcome to those wanting to get involved with the Hawaii Burning Man community.

Upon our arrival in Honolulu, Andie Grace and I were greeted, leis in hand, by Andi, Geoff and Mike, a Hawaiian Burner who’d come to Black Rock City for the first time in 2010. Over a home-cooked dinner at Andi’s house on the North Shore, we learned a great deal about Burner life on O’ahu and the ways in which Andi and Geoff are encouraging year-round participation through a range of projects, Meet n Greets and other community gatherings.

Our gracious hosts,Geoff (left) and Andi (right), in line at Keneke's BBQ

One way in which Burners can participate in Hawaii is through the first ever CORE Project (Circle of Regional Effigies). This year, Hawaii and over twenty-five Burning Man Regional groups from across the world will be building effigies on playa in a circle around the Man. These effigies will be burned ceremoniously on playa to celebrate the year-round communities that have grown out of the Burning Man event. Many Regional groups have chosen to create an effigy that symbolizes their city or state (for example, the Las Vegas Burners are building a showgirl) while other groups have chosen to recreate an effigy from one of their official Burning Man Regional events. The Hawaii Burners’ contribution to the circle will be “The Phoenix,” an effigy they built for Rebirth, an annual camping event that takes place on the Big Island. The design for “The Phoenix” was initially conceived by artist Mike Muang who travels each year from Boston to Hawaii to build the wooden sculpture that is burned, like the Man, on Saturday evening each year during Rebirth. Recreating “The Phoenix” on playa will take a lot of man power as well as some fundraising. Currently, Andi and Geoff are looking for artists and other creative spirits to come forward and share their ideas and skills.There are currently myriad ways to get involved with the CORE project as well as Burnal Equinox, an upcoming community event in Honolulu.Proceeds from Burnal Equinox event in Honolulu will directly fund the purchase of supplies and materials for ‘The Phoenix” effigy build. For more information, visit the Hawaii page in the Regionals section of the Burning Man website.

"The Phoenix" effigy burn at Rebirth, 2008 (Photo by Seth from Honolulu)

The CORE project is not only a way for the Hawaii group to come together through hands-on participation but also a way to let other Hawaiian Burners know that there are ways to stay connected to Burning Man year-round on O’ahu.  “Burners from all over Hawaii go to Burning Man but they don’t always know that we have a local community here on the islands,” Andi explains. “Maybe having ‘The Phoenix’ out out on playa this year will raise awareness.”

Another way in which Andi and Geoff have been encouraging year-round participation has been through hosting Meet n Greet events on O’ahu. During our visit, Andie Grace and I had the pleasure of attending a Meet n Greet at Bar 35 in Honolulu’s Chinatown. With a wide grin, Geoff told us about how the O’ahu Meet n Greets have, over the years, been a great way to bring local Burners together and to welcome visitors into the local Burner scene. “I get a call or email from a Burner several times a month. Sometimes they are just passing through but other times, they are new to the island and looking to connect,” Geoff beamed. “If there’s a beach burn or a Meet n Greet happening, I invite them. Otherwise, I make it a priority to meet up and show them around town.”

The twenty or so Burners that made it out for the Meet n Greet at Bar 35 ran the gamut from the seasoned Burner to the excited Newbie. As our luck would have it, Playarazzi Andy, a professional photographer who registers with us each year at Media Mecca, happened to be visiting O’ahu at the same time and made his way to Bar 35. Through chatting with other Burners at the Meet n Greet, Andy was able to get contact information for a local fire troupe whom he’d hoped to connect with and photograph during his stay on O’ahu. It seemed that other new friendships were being created and we ended the evening with a group photo (I will post photo asap for your enjoyment). Another Meet n Greet will likely be held next month and, as always, Geoff and Andi welcome any and all interested to attend.

Even though there are so many ways to get involved with the local Burner scene, Andi and Geoff explained that it can sometimes be difficult to get people together. On O’ahu, even the most ambitious and well-meaning Burners are easily distracted by the big waves and warm climate. But, Andi and Geoff are not easily discouraged. “We’ll continue to host gatherings and get the word out about what’s happening here,” Andi says, “and we’re always hoping more people will come out of the woodwork and make new things happen.”

After the crowd thinned out, we made our way back to the North Shore. Andi and Geoff seemed happy that the Meet n Greet had been so successful and also that they’d had the opportunity to “show off” all that O’ahu has to offer. Though Andie Grace and I were sad to leave O’ahu, we were looking forward to connecting with more Burners on our visit to the Big Island.

Hawaii Part One: Maui’s Burgeoning Art Scene

After years of hearing about the art scene on Maui through my many friends who’ve migrated there from the Mainland, I finally made the trip out to Maui from San Francisco this weekend to check things out for myself.

Public Art in Maui: Ku'au Market Mural by Lanikila

I arrived Saturday into Kahalui airport and my dear friend and our resident Media Mecca decor diva, Fruit Loop, picked me up in her teal-colored hoopty and took me on a tour of this lush and laid back island oasis. I quickly found myself immersed not only in Maui’s beautiful environs but also in a vibrant, artistic, and highly driven group of Burners and creative spirits. As I explored Maui from Fruit Loop’s point of view, I discovered that with some focus and determination, artists can find a wealth of opportunities to pursue their passions and make a decent living in this tropical paradise.

Creative Inspiration: Maui's Big Beach

Maui is a hub for international tourists, many of whom are enticed there by the artistic expression of the artists who call the island home. Art collectors are drawn to the tropical motifs, ancient symbolism and bright colors that they find in Maui’s public murals and inside her many galleries. If you were to hang out in a cafe in Paia or Hana, you might even spot a celebrity. In her short eight months working at Cafe des Amis in Paia, Fruit Loop has waited on Woody Harrelson, Paris Hilton, Pink and Flea. With such a constant influx of art lovers and high rollers, Maui is an appealing place to try to make an earnest go of it as an artist.

Burners and artists on Maui have pooled resources to create spaces to display their work to the wider world. Like the Brewery in Los Angeles or American Steel in Oakland, the Pauwela Cannery in Haiku has been converted by local artists from a manufacturing center into a series of artsty storefronts and studios. Fruit Loop recently signed a lease for her first storefront which she will soon be turning into a visionary art gallery. Getting your foot in the door is one thing but in order to thrive on Maui, Fruit Loop says, you have to be highly focused. “Everyone who comes here to be an artist was successful in their hometown. It’s tough. You have to constantly stay motivated if you want to make it work.”

Vibrant artwork at "Maui Open Studios"

One goal of Fruit Loop’s is to have her storefront included in the next Maui Open Studios.The first annual Maui Open Studios took place this month and I was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of it this weekend. Yesterday, we visited a series of studios where artists were displaying everything from beautiful fabric paintings, to stained glass, to sculptures. Sarah, one of the artists at the Pauwela Cannery, told us she had four possible sales on the horizon after yesterday’s  “Open Studios.” By having her act together enough to open her studio doors to the public this weekend, Sarah found doors opening up for her. Sarah’s story is proof that for the motivated artist, opportunities abound on Maui.
“It’s exciting,” says Fruit Loop. “I finally feel like I am able to fully be a professional artist.” I for one can’t wait to see the “Open” sign on Fruit Loop’s studio door.

Tis the Season: Burners Gifting Back

The spirit of generosity is in the air. Checkout lines are miles long, stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and our hearts (and our wallets) are open. While the world’s attention is so highly focused on gifting during this holiday season, Burners across the world are creating ways for their friends, family, and fellow Burners to gift back.

A Vegas Volunteer at the Hot Dog Stand Smiles Photo Courtesy of BamBam

This weekend, Andie Grace, our Communications Manager, and her husband Tom Price held a Christmas party at their home in San Francisco. Rather than having guests bring the obligatory bottles of wine and holiday trinkets, Andie and Tom turned their gathering into a diaper drive. Their party invite read, “All we want for Christmas is to fill the bathtub with diapers to donate. Please bring a package of disposable baby diapers of any size to help Bay Area babies in need via Help a Mother Out.” When I arrived with my baby wipes in tow, the tub was already half-full. Andie happily reports that she and Tom collected four big bags full of diapers to give to Help a Mother Out.

As I talked with Burners across the country this week, I found other examples of friends coming together during this hectic month to make a meaningful contribution to their local community.

Feeding the Homeless and Hungry in Las Vegas

On Sunday, December 19, 2010, a group of twenty-five Burners, their children, and friends served over 450 meals to the homeless and hungry of North Las Vegas.

Last year, on Christmas Eve of 2009, BamBam, a ten-year Burning Man veteran and owner of the mobile hot dog stand he calls “Hot Diggity Dog,” enlisted the support of his partner Pebbles and a few other friends and took his stand down to the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Owens in North Las Vegas. That evening, the crew served over 250 meals of jumbo hot dogs, chips and sodas to the homeless and hungry. BamBam set up a canopy and a big sign that read “HOT DOGS” and watched lines form around the stand. (more…)

Regional Spotlight

If you Build It…

The ethos of the Burning Man community continues to spread far beyond the orange trash fence of Black Rock City. From coast to coast and out into the far reaches of cyberspace, Burners are creating the conditions for communal effort, radical self-expression, and public art.

Part 1: Asbury Park, New Jersey

"Momento Mori" in Asbury Park, NJ Photo by Marah Fellicce

Since back in the Spring, New Jersey Regional Contact Marah Fellicce has been participating in an interactive art piece she calls “Memento Mori.” On a vacant condo lot amidst the suburban sprawl of Asbury Park, New Jersey, Marah uses wood pilings as the base for large fabric wrappings. Marah says the pilings were drilled into the ground in 2005 on what was to be the site of a new complex but the pilings have remained unused as construction has yet to begin on the lot. The first pieces Marah created were a part of  “Sculptoure,” an annual outdoor urban sculpture exhibition presented by The Shore Institute for Contemporary Arts. The art work has continued to evolve since the May exhibition and has taken on a life of its own.

Superman, flamingos, and tikis, oh my! Photo by Ruby Re-Usable

Over the past several months, Marah has added elements to the football-sized art piece and has held space for others to participate in creating “Memento Mori.”  A local grafitti artist was inspired to contribute and painted bright tiki faces on many of the pilings. Reflecting the idea of constant change inherent in this temporary sculpture, passersby also rearrange rocks and leave contributions such as a prom dress with colored stencils, pink flamingos, a brightly colored Superman bust, and other found objects that become part of the artful display.The lot has become a place for locals to express themselves and the eclecticism of the project inspires conversations. A writer known online as “Wizard 343” from the website Weird New Jersey happened upon Marah’s work and, after talking with Marah, wrote a lovely article on the artwork, on Marah’s creative process and on how Marah relates her art to the Burning Man principles. For photos and a great story, visit http://tinyurl.com/marahnj.

Celebrating Our New Year Across the World

I like to think of Burning Man as a family reunion. The Burn marks a time when we, being a colorful and vibrant family, come together to create a space for both celebration and reflection. If we’re lucky, we make the annual trek out to Black Rock City and re-emerge dust-soaked, full of new ideas, new relationships, our perspective shifted. We return to the default world only to start mentally preparing ourselves to return to Black Rock City next year.

Rakuville Temple Fireworks Photo by Linda Loca

So what happens when friends and family can’t make it back to our desert home for the Burn? How do they stimulate new ideas, new relationships, and personal growth?

Though technology has made it possible for thousands of wayward Burners to experience the Nevada event through simulcast, there is something that happens out in the dust that is hard to really feel anywhere else. Or so I thought.

Returning home, I began to talk with friends of mine about their off-playa experiences. Through these conversations, I started to realize that some of the more meaningful stories about the 2010 Burn that I was hearing didn’t happen out in the Nevada desert. The stories I loved the most were about the magic moments that happened when our wayward Burner friends came together to create a sense of home during the Burning Man event in cities all over the world.

This year, our beloved Bex Workman, who has participated heavily in Burning Man for over a decade was unable to make it to Nevada for the first time in 14 years.

Now living in London with her new husband Tom, Bex reports, “I admit that I kinda freaked out and started talking about Burning Man non-stop. The more I freaked, the more I talked to people, the more I learned that my fellow community members here in London were going through the same thing and weren’t going to the playa either.” (more…)

Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco

The Official Burning Man Film Festival will showcase 20 short and feature length films when it takes place on June 12-13, 2010 in San Francisco.  Produced by Andie Grace and Dave Marr, the Film Festival will offer theatergoers a unique look at Burning Man through the eyes of filmmakers who’ve documented various aspects of the event throughout the years. Saturday’s “Then” line-up will feature films shot between 1991 and 2003 and Sunday’s “Now” queue boasts an array of films shot from 2002 to 2010. On Saturday evening, there will be a special screening of Juicy Danger Meets Burning Man and a reception with art, roving performance, a raffle and more! The festival will be held at the Red Vic Movie House at 1727 Haight Street, SF, CA 94117. For a full listing of films and to purchase advanced tickets, visit: http://www.burningman-filmfest.com/home/.

“This festival is a rare and unique opportunity to see Burning Man from the beginning,” said festival co-producer David Marr.  “[The Film Festival] is a chance to see how [Burning Man] was created and what effect it has on us today.”

Over the past few years, the Burning Man “Film Festival in a Box” program has been a way for Burners across the world to bring their communities together and to educate others about the Burning Man culture and values. Recently, BM film festival screenings were held in Paris, Los Angeles, and Saskatchewan. In February,  the San Diego Burning Man Film Festival was held at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park and local hoop troupes, belly dancers, and musicians offered their talents up as part of the weekend program. If you are interested in having a BM Film Festival in your city, get in touch with your local Burning Man Regional Contact.

We hope to see you at the Red Vic in June!