Posts for category Afield in the World


July 26th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Events/Happenings

“This Is Burning Man”

Brian Doherty, Larry Harvey and Michael Mikel at Z Space on Thursday night in San Francisco

Brian Doherty, Larry Harvey and Michael Mikel at Z Space on Thursday night in San Francisco.
(All photos by Erica Bartel)

Larry Harvey his own self got us in a desert mood the other night, talking about the beginnings of Burning Man even as we beat the playa out of our rugs and dodge all the Indiegogo campaigns and get ready to head out to Black Rock City again.

You probably know the story of how Burning Man began. Maybe you’ve read some magazine articles or a book or two. Ok, maybe you’ve only read a bunch of Facebook posts, but you know it all began when Larry was upset about breaking up with a girlfriend, so he burned a wooden effigy on Baker Beach to ease his troubled mind, and things took off from there.

Well, that’s not quite right, but that’s ok. An event that’s stretched its wings so far beyond the desert (twenty-three countries! fifty-five events!) is going to have some myth-making attached to it, and the bad-breakup-with-the-girlfriend story is one of them.

News came this week that the Bureau of Land Management has given the Burning Man organization official permission to hold the event for the next four years, with a maximum population of 68,000 wandering souls in 2013. That’s a big number; bigger than ever, and who could have envisioned that a spontaneous, just-for-the-hell of it Baker Beach bonfire in 1986 would grow into something that has changed the popular culture in unprecedented ways. And that’s not just hyperbole. Burning Man IS different – different than the Summer of Love, different than Woodstock, and way different than Altamont. It has endured, it has changed, and it continues to grow. And as the Burning Man Project pushes outward into the world, there has been an accompanying movement to pull back – a get-back-to-basics effort to remember the beginnings and try, as the Ten Principles do, to describe what happens out there, so that it might be replicated and extended.

So that’s what brought us to Z Space in San Francisco the other night. Harvey was there, and so was Michael Mikel, another of the founders, and Brian Doherty, the author of “This Is Burning Man,” really one of the best things you can read if you’d like to understand the underpinnings of the event. Harley DuBois, another one of the founders, said in her introduction to the evening that while she read the book, “I could almost smell the playa dust again.” Read more »

Austin’s Burning Flipside: Taking Leave No Trace to the Next Level

 

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the Burning Man regional event. By working with authorities to override a long-term population cap, Burning Flipside organizers have successfully rewritten the rules!

Photo by Mark Kaplan.

Photo by Mark Kaplan.

In order to increase the event’s capacity, State regulations required Flipside organizers to provide potable water, daily trash service, trash receptacles, cups, napkins, lighting and other services. But Flipside is a Leave No Trace event based on personal accountability; participants are expected to bring in everything they need and pack it out when they leave (sound familiar?).

The vast majority of large-scale events and festivals do provide trash cans, based on the assumption that attendees are not interested in picking up after themselves. Leave No Trace events like Burning Man and Burning Flipside have a different ethos. The latter trust that community members are not only perfectly capable of cleaning up after their own wild rumpuses, but that they feel satisfied and self-reliant as a result of doing so.

We come together, build something amazing, burn it to the ground and then pick up every last cinder. It’s an achievement we’re proud of, and it’s part of what defines us as a community rather than merely an event. We do it because we respect the land and the right of others to enjoy the land once we depart.

Incorporating trash services would change the very nature of what Flipside is about and Austin Artistic Reconstruction (AAR), the organization running Flipside, wasn’t willing to subvert the community’s values just to sell more tickets.

Faced with a choice of either going against our community’s values by providing trash cans, or limiting the population, AAR did what they had to do:

They changed the rules.

Read more »

June 12th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Events/Happenings, Participate!

Participate! Vote on Burners Without Borders’ next grant recipient!

From Hurricane Sandy relief to empowering marginalized street-living youth through the MotoMoto Circus project in Kenya, Burners Without Borders has supported innovative disaster relief programs and community initiatives that have a positive lasting impact since 2005.

Burners Without Borders

Tomorrow, Burners Without Borders invites you to join their tele-salon and select their next grant recipient! Their new Walk the Walk Grant program seeks to fund innovative community projects within the Burning Man Global Network.

Four finalists will each have 10 minutes to pitch their project during the call. How does the project embody the 10 Principles, creatively address local challenges and produce direct actions and collaboration? Join the tele-salon and find out tomorrow. Read more »

June 11th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World

How [freespace] Challenges Burning Man’s Emergent Principles

In San Francisco Burner circles, close to the source, I often hear the Burner’s Dream expressed thusly: Our dream is to bring the principles we embody out on the playa back to the default world.

We want to be as awesome as we are at Burning Man all the time, and we want our cities and towns and neighborhoods to be that awesome as well.

freespace

This June, a bunch of San Francisco Burners fell into the opportunity to take over a 14,000-square-foot SOMA warehouse for $1 and turn it into [freespace], a three-story blank canvas for artists, hackers, farmers, builders, and whoever else wanders in, meant to be a staging ground for inspired experiments in hacking on the meaning of urban space.

Sounds like that Burner’s Dream come to life, right? Naturally, Burning Man got involved. But what does that even mean? Who is this “Burning Man?” Is it the Burning Man organization? is it the fledgling non-profit Burning Man Project? Is it Burning Man participants acting of their own accord?

Yes.

Read more »

June 6th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Art and Whimsy are renewable resources

Significance of the Water, by Alexander Spivak.  (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License)

Significance of the Water, by Alexander Spivak. (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License)

Where’d all the fun people go?

A recent San Francisco newspaper article was ostensibly about a book – the newly published history of the Cacophony Society.  But its headline asked a very pertinent question:  “Whither the tricksters?”

San Francisco used to be full of mischief makers who played extraordinary pranks on normal society – or at least as normal as it gets in SF, a city where phone apps for vegan bicyclists are considered a literary form.  But many of their greatest feats have been institutionalized (Santacon … runners in salmon costumes “swimming” upstream during a major race between the ocean and the bay), and new public activities seen to have just … disappeared.

What happened?

There are many answers, but one of the big ones is that Burning Man sucked all the air out of the city.

That’s not intended as a hostile comment – and indeed there’s quite a bit of truth to it.  Burning Man became a San Francisco Cacophony Society event early in its history, turned into the definitive Cacophony event in the mid-90s, and soon a small army of whimsical geniuses who otherwise would be setting up rappel lines between corporate rooftops were working on art cars, theme camps, and port-a-pottie logistics for the annual trip to the desert.

Even for the high-energy aesthetic dissident of means, there are only so many costume parties and conceptual mind-fucks you can come up with in a year.  Those of us who have to work for a living have even less time to spend in gorilla suits.  At some level yes, Burning Man took all the time and inspiration that otherwise would have been spent doing Cacophony events in San Francisco.

What are we to make of this?

Read more »

Firefly Opens Studios to Boston Area Community

No need to wait three months to dive into the art of Burning Man! Burning Man Regional Groups in more than 120 regions spanning over 20 countries are developing ways to engage local communities around the creative spirit, year-round.

Firefly Arts Collective

Firefly Arts Collective lights up Somerville Open Studios (Photo Credit: Jonathan Macleod)

Earlier this month, Firefly Arts Collective  – who organize the official New England Burning Man regional event Firefly – took part in Somerville Open Studios, one of the largest weekend-long open studio events in the United States.

Home to many Firefly artists and a growing arts community, Somerville is located just north of Boston. Read more »

May 7th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

The Temple for Christchurch

Temple for Christchurch conceptual rendering

A temple is being built in Christchurch, New Zealand, commemorating the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that devastated that city in February 2011, killing 185 people.

Inspired by the ritual of Burning Man’s temples, and a recipient of a 2012 Black Rock Arts Foundation grant, the Temple for Christchurch will serve as a sacred space where people can leave mementos and write on its walls before witnessing its eventual burning. The intention is to help residents of Christchurch reflect upon and come to terms with the aftermath of the disaster.

Architectural mapping of Richter scale waveforms

Artist Hippathy Valentine designed the Temple as an architectural interpretation of the Richter scale waveforms that were created by the earthquake itself — and it symbolically stands 6.3 meters in height at its peak. Fittingly, it’s being constructed on one of the many empty demolition sites that now are common in Christchurch. Its modular design allows the structure to be taken apart and reconstructed in the New Zealand countryside, where it will be burned.

Watch this video clip by 3 News New Zealand to learn more about the Temple for Christchurch. If you’d like to donate to the project, click here.

May 1st, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Events/Happenings

Burning in Africa: AfrikaBurn 2013

AfrikaBurn greeters bell (photo by BettieJune)

AfrikaBurn 2013 — Burning Man’s official African regional Burn — is underway in Tankwa, South Africa. Now in its seventh year, AfrikaBurn is rightfully touted as “the spectacular result of the creative expression of a community of volunteers who, once a year, gather in the Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance!”

The event takes place May 1-6 on an expanse of remote desert in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa akin to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada (albeit a little more rocky), and its population has steadily grown since its inception … they’re expecting 8,000 participants this year. Read more »