Posts for category Culture (Art & Music)


August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Have You Ever Slid Down Into a Volcano?

photo: Aleks Stirajs

Truth is Beauty 2013 photo: Aleks Stirajs

I have been writing about Bliss Dance Studios for several years. They are my friends and I am a BIG fan. My favorite blog post was when they were assembling Bliss Dance before Burning Man 2010. There were some pretty scary moments and from where I was sitting, it was a miracle when it all fit together.  It was their first try at art of this size, you can see that post HERE.

So I believe art begets art. For example, one of the Bliss Dance crew, last year she was the operations manager for Truth is Beauty, Katy Boynton, created Heartfullness with her crew in 2012 and brought it out again in 2011, you can read about that HERE.

But it was a huge surprise to me when one of the Truth is Beauty crew announced a few months ago that she wanted to create a volcano, Paha’oha’o, about 30′ tall, and bring it to the Playa this year. So then it started, the vision, what it should look like, what it should be made of, would there be fire? Then there were structural drawings and discussions of materials. I found it all very exciting. Although I am not on the crew, we have a potluck on Tuesdays so I got to see materials testing, the structural engineer stopping by, the stairs getting built and tested, and oh yes, the slide, or as the artist Kahai Sumida Tate says:

The only way down will be to take a leap of faith into the belly of the volcano via a 22’ drop slide or lava tube that is made with an organic linoleum.

Building the last few weeks has been at a furious pace and I have had the chance to see the pieces come together, the sides of the volcano being built, the drums being created, and then this happened:

And just to bring it back to art begets art, Katy Boynton is the Project Manager of this project and Marco Cochrane has sculpted a eight foot high hula dance, who is making an offering to Pele, the fire goddess, to live in the belly of Paha’oha’o.

I wanted to know a little more about the volcano and what it meant to Kahai, this is what she has to say about it:

In Hawaii, eruptions are viewed as beneficial, as acts of creation, and Hawaiians often see their lives mirrored in the level of volcanic activity.
On those islands, an eruption usually begins with lava gushing from a long crack in the earth. The hot, highly fluid material leaves a smooth, skin like texture along the eruptive fissure. Because the structure is reminiscent of a huge vagina, native Hawaiians traditionally regarded an eruption as the menstruation of the goddess Pele, with the red lava always flowing toward the sea, the same path taken in ancient times by women to cleanse themselves. Participants will be able to sacrifice themselves into the volcano burning away their outer shell to start a new beginning.

The volcano will stand 30’ tall by 60’ in diameter layered in burlap which will look like molten lava. The lava will be illuminated wall washer led volcanolights that will be programmed to look like flowing lava. There will be a ladder to allow to people to climb to the top of the caldera and sacrifice themselves into mouth of the volcano. Inside the volcano will be an enclosed room with a 12’ ceiling, Marco Cochrane’s sculpture, and Hawaiian pahu drums.

If you would like to see Paha’oha’o burn at Burning Man this year, read about the burn HERE.

And did I hear you say you would like to volunteer to help Paha’oha’o? They are looking for volunteers at Burning Man this year to help participants at the the top and bottom of the slide. Participants will sacrifice themselves into the volcano burning away their outer shell to start a new beginning! 3 hours of fiery fun! Sign up for a shift using the link on the event page HERE. Mahalo!

August 14th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, Preparation

Audio Art Tours are live!

The wonderful folks in the ARTery have completed your 2014 Audio Art Tours.

Download the entire zip file or get individual MP3s now at the new Art Installations Audio Tours page.

The MP3s are great to listen to while packing, on the drive to BRC, or on playa, as you’ll have your own personal art tour guide. They should import into your music player as an album and are easy to drop into a playlist.

Your tour guides are the ever fantastic art fanatics  Jim Tierney and Evonne Heyning. Blurbs for each piece are written by Jim Tierney  or the individual artists.

Spread the word far and wide and bring your own Art tour to the playa.

Also, the ARTery has created a page devoted to everything you need to know about  Art Tours in Black Rock City this year

Enjoy!

August 8th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, Playa Tips

Art Tours? Yes, we have Art Tours.

Mike Garlington's Photo Chapel  Photo by Anthony Peterson

Mike Garlington’s Photo Chapel
Photo by Anthony Peterson

One thing that keeps me coming back to Black Rock City each year is the ART.

It has been said many times that the playa is a blank slate, a tabula rasa, a seemingly infinite empty space that all of us who are the Burning Man community fill up for a week with so much art that it is bursting at the seams, and seeing how the playa challenges artists is a thing of beauty.

Our artists are playa hardened. They are well aware of how a massive, not unexpected dust storm affects agility of machinery and mechanics. They know how a rain storm stops all forward momentum and that a wind gust can topple the mightiest monument. In the environment of Black Rock City, just spending months building an art piece and transporting it is only a small part of the challenges that artists face to fill up that space. They are planning for an art show at the edge of the apocalypse, with insidious alkaline powder invading every electronic device, with huge and heavy sculptural forms being moved across the soft packed playa surface all using an infrastructure they and Burning Man set up for only a few weeks a year.

Art Tours at Everywhere Photo Moze

Art Tours at Everywhere
Photo Moze

Our artists are aware of the vastness of the space they are attempting to fill up. I believe they are basically mad to even attempt to do what they do every year and those of us who are not building art out there are so fortunate to be at this point in history; to be a part of this thing we call Burning Man.

Sometimes on playa, we can take the art for granted. You will always stumble into something wonderful on your journeys to and fro and that is indeed planned. But for you art junkies out there who want to see it ALL each year, the ARTery is Black Rock City’s portal for Art Tours, and this year there is a panoply of options to explore.

A web page with all the information you need is in the works, but here are some details for now. You should stop by the ARTery at 6:30 and Esplanade, next to Everywhere, if you are interested in any of these tours. The ARTery’s hours are 9am to 6pm every day (closed for lunch from 1-2pm) and they would love to see you! Keep reading for all you need to know about Art Tours this year.

Read more »

August 5th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Moscow, Megs, and the Red October

Cardboardia Parade, courtesy of cardboardia.info

Cardboardia Parade, courtesy of cardboardia.info

What do you get when you cross a giant, flaming duck with a chocolate factory and a smiling tyrant? A bird, a plane…and my recent visit to Russia.

A few weeks back, I traveled to Moscow to participate in an academic Urban Routines conference at Strelka Institute. The invitation was a fortunate one as it also gave me the opportunity to visit the thriving Moscow Burner community and to meet a fascinating and fun loving Black Rock Arts Foundation grant recipient.

My first day in Moscow, I wandered, sleep-deprived but excited, over a set of small bridges to find myself on an island in the Moscow River that houses the Krasny Oktyabr or “Red October,” chocolate factory, built in the 19th century.  The factory complex is now the home of art galleries, cafes, and Strelka Institute. Read more »

July 27th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music), Events/Happenings

The Flaming Lotus Girls’ “Soma” on San Francisco’s waterfront

photo Jason Chinn

photo Jason Chinn

With the Bay Lights as a glittering backdrop, the Flaming Lotus Girls  have installed their beautiful and interactive 2009 sculpture, “Soma”, at Pier 14.

San Francisco has been showcasing art at Pier 14 for a while now and Soma is the third art piece to have debuted in Black Rock City that will now grace this breathtaking corner of the City.  The piece was installed over the last two weeks and has already become the toast of San Francisco.

The sculpture is 60 ft long, dendrite to dendrite “depicting two communicating neurons connected by an axon bridge.  A soma is the cell body of a neuron, with branching dendrites projecting away at different angles, and an axon which conducts the nerve signal electrochemically to its neighboring cell.”

Soma is the combined work of over 100 Flaming Lotus Girls volunteers and the fire that glowed on the playa has been replaced with 97 LED lights that mix wonderfully with Leo Villareal’s Bay Lights behind them.

The  Flaming Lotus Girl’s Soma site describes Soma as a sculpture that

… represents the communication between two neurons:  She transforms the neuronal flow of electricity that forms the foundation of consciousness from a molecular to a monumental scale.

Built of stainless steel and LEDs, SOMA leads us to ask fundamental questions about human thought and neurological transmission. What is consciousness? What is communication? How does our physical and cultural environment shape us? What makes us human? Soma invites us to explore individual, collective and cosmic consciousness, the ego, and the hidden potential within us all for a more connected future.

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The Generator, A Community Art and Builder’s Space

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved

Gene kids2

Youngsters making things

There is a new art kid on the block! The Generator is a non-profit, inclusive, community art and builder’s space in greater Reno, Nevada (actually in Sparks). It’s open to anyone who wants to make art and be part of a creative community, and they run on their version of Burning Man’s Ten Principles.

I went for a tour a few weeks ago, and I was amazed. There is every sort of tool, and many different kinds of artists: painters, sculptors, woodworkers, Burning Man Honorarium artists, brand new artists of every sort, and children learning art. And the best part is there is no cost to anyone who wants to participate in making any kind of art.

Read more »

June 23rd, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

The Castle of Bohemia is Having a Garage Sale

2494124254_5b6bb38483_z Late one night, the furniture on the side of the building on Howard Street started to move. It had been suspended up there on the wall for 17 years; but one night, one of the chairs wiggled, pulled, then popped a leg free. It tore another rusted steel foot off the wall, shaking loose a few rusty bolts that tumbled down onto the sidewalk below.

The others looked over, lamps craning their necks and throwing oblongs of light, the grandfather clock swiveling its head to see. The chairs plunged down the wall, scampered onto the sidewalk, and out into the dark.

Before long, the tables and televisions made their way down, one fat couch inching down like a caterpillar, thumping away in all directions. After 17 years, Defenestration was no more.

“This is the castle of Bohemia,” said Defenestration creator Brian Goggin, standing outside the Hugo Hotel during a going away party. The hotel had been a blown-out shell of a building when more than 100 people crawled all over it, driven by humor, love, and incredulity to install coffee tables on a building.
Bohemian Garage Sale Sign
The art installation Defenestration – a real word which means the act of throwing something out the window – has been a San Francisco landmark for years, at a busy SOMA intersection downtown, proof that enough people working together can make the contents of a Goodwill store march up the side of a wall. If you never had a chance to see it, it was more than 30 pieces of furniture, tables, a TV that worked, side tables jumping out a window, lamps that turned on and off. In the fog, on your way to work or the water, day in and day out.

Goggin would, incognito, join walking tours to hear what people said about Defenestration. “One told me that it was it was representative of people in San Francisco being kicked out of their homes,” or “the dreams of all of those who live on the street to have a home,” he said. The Hugo Hotel will be torn down this year to build affordable housing. In some ways, it’s the opposite of Burning Art ethos: an installation that was only supposed to last six months, staying around for 17 years.

Goggin has continued to hang things from buildings – most recently a bunch of  flying pianos - but for the Burning Man community, Defenestration has special meaning.

Defenestration was the first large-scale art project produced by Burners outside of the Burning Man event,” said Burning Man co-founder Michael Mikel (aka Danger Ranger), who wired the electricity to the lamps, TVs, and a phone set to randomly ring.

About 40 people lived in the decrepit building during the moving-in period, cooking meals, throwing concerts inside, hanging off of walls.

“The first thing we built was a chest of drawers coming out of the window,” said Mikel. “A neighbor saw it and called 911. The fire department came and chopped it down. The first art piece was chopped down by the fire department.”

Defenestration was conceived and designed by Brian Goggin, but it was scores of Burning Man community volunteers that came together to support, build and install the artwork, he said.

The massive opening party in 1997 closed off the street, and had tall bikes rambling up and down. Fire artist Scott Generic swung a giant flaming ball of steel wool around on the roof, sending mass sparks into the crowd. Some of them landed on the SFPD, setting their uniforms on fire. They ran into the building and up the stairs to stop him, but Generic made it down a staircase and escaped out the back of the building.

The art gallery Varnish is running the Defenestration garage sale, returning the former Neighborhood Cleanup furniture to its new vaunted place in arts heaven. They do not require that you hang one of the chairs from the side of any walls, although the furniture will always be animated.

“This is the castle…” said Goggin, stopping to convince someone to let a piano stay on the sidewalk.  “I regret that I can’t put cannon up there and protect it better. I would shoot flowers out into the city to stop them from taking it down.”

June 7th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!

Honoraria and the Art of Black Rock City

Honoraria and Art of Black Rock City installations have been uploaded to the website and there are some fine looking projects slated for this year’s event. 2014 will sport an Man towering “many stories high, rising directly from the desert floor”, and from the looks of the Art descriptions, it’s clear that we also have some spectacular and mind blowing Art projects in the mix.

We have Pools and Sound Puddles, oases, Resticles and a Vulvatron. There will be silk, towers and minarets and Jessika Welz’ “Celestial Mechanica“, a “kinetic mechanical representation of our own solar system.” There will be camel and wagon trains and even ZZ Fish by Jan DeLano, Wendell DeLano, and Anne Pearce that explores the “determination, transformation, and the cycle of life across the vast oceans of the planet” of salmon migration. “Big Al” by Brennan Steele is an alligator effigy, spawned from the CORE by New Orleans Burners that “pays homage to the spark that brought the NOLA Community together, the inspiring event known as Burning Man”.

embracePeter Hudson brings his much anticipated new zoetrope, “Eternal Return” that “speculates that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form, an infinite number of times across infinite time and/or infinite space.”  The Pier Group, who brought us the Pier in 2011 and  Pier2 and La Llorona in 2012, return to the playa with a new project, “Embrace“, “a 7-story tall wooden cathedral-like sculpture of two human figures in an embrace.”

There will even be a volcano, Paha’oha’o by Kahai Tate … “rising thirty feet from the desert floor; the great volcano Paha’oha’o! At night its fiery peak will be visible from miles away as will the screams of those who cast themselves into her cauldron, seeking the joy of flaming transformation.”

54-b210f5385162276d0d572cd5a236ce7d_LOST-NOMADS-VULCANIA-bmanAlso gracing the playa will be Wormholes and Warps, Pulses, Pavilions and a Parasolvent. “The Lost Nomads of Vulcania” by Joe Mross & Archive Designs, is “a steampunk-inspired gypsy encampment featuring the Teluriz, one of the few remaining Vardo Class Steam Walkers built by the last surviving members of Captain Nemo’s crew.” There is Ice Fishing, an Observatory, some medieval pillory and stocks, and “lumenEssence” by Mauricio Bustos is a “sheltering organism that serves as a waypoint and retreat for weary playa travelers.” It is constructed of 33 30-foot LED illuminated towers of many tentacles.

This year’s Temple will be built by David Best and the Temple Crew. The Temple of Grace will serve as a spiritual and sacred place for memorials and will be “70+’ high, and have a footprint of 80′x80′; it sits in a courtyard approximately 150′x150′. The structure incorporates a central interior dome within a graceful curved body made of wood and steel. It will again have intricately cut wooden panels for the exterior and interior skin. Eight altars will surround the temple inside a low-walled courtyard, creating a large exterior grounds for the community.”

temple

Brian Tedrick’s beautiful “Minaret” will join us, as will the “Eidolon Panspermia Ostentatia Duodenum (epod)” by Michael Christian, in addition to his “Bike Bridge“, a collaboration with Oakland, CA youth, that currently resides at the Uptown Park in downtown Oakland near the Fox Theater. “Bike Bridge” was funded in part by the Black Rock Arts Foundation who has been funding off-playa projects since 2001.

This year — in the spirit of our current world of online funding of big art — BRAF is also facilitating fundraising so that in addition to getting involved building the Art,  you can help support your favorite project financially via the Black Rock Arts Foundation. From their site:

The Black Rock Arts Foundation is pleased to offer fiscal sponsorship to a select number of projects produced for exhibition at the Burning Man event in 2014. We hope that this pilot project will help Burning Man artists raise necessary funds for their art by enabling tax-deductible contributions to their projects.

The 13 Honoraria projects under BRAF’s fiscal sponsorship are projects whose cost is not entirely covered by Burning Man or other Art grants. By using the BRAF Fiscal Sponsorship, potential donors can realize additional benefits such as a tax write off, matching donations from donors’ employers, and grants from donor-advised funds that can only be given to recognized 501(c)(3) organizations.

If you’d like to donate to any projects,  take a look at the Honoraria Art page.  You can donate via BRAF by following links from projects with a Donate Now button. A full list of projects you can contribute to and more information on that process is at blackrockarts.org/projects/fiscal-sponsorships.

Additionally, if you are interested in reading about last year’s art and reviewing a financial chart of expenditures for Burning Man 2013, including Honorarium Art Grants, check out the just-released 2013 Afterburn.

PahaAt this point in time, we live in a world of possibilities. This post barely scratches the surface of what is coming to Black Rock City this year. Right now countless people are creating Art and Theme camps, organizing music and performance, going over City plans and making sure the infrastructure is built. We are devising clever alterations to reality to share at Black Rock City that week that is coming up soon. We are planning and working and pouring ourselves into whatever it is that we will share in this year’s Caravansary, all commingling and cross pollinating; working towards this event we keep returning to because we create it. It is ours.

Take some time to read about the Art this year. It’s a lot of fun when you’re cris-crossing the playa and are suddenly pulled deep into the sphere of something you’ve never experienced in your life, waylaid for minutes to hours and having a blast with it and someone says, “I wonder who built this” or “What is this” and you remember a bit of something you read in June you can share with your fellow wayfarers.

As always, Burning Man will be putting up the extremely enjoyable Art Audio Tours by Anarchist Jim, Evonne Heyning and the whole ARTery team before you leave for Black Rock City that can be downloaded and brought with you while you journey across the playa discovering all the amazing creations on your way.