Posts for category Culture (Art & Music)
On April 19, 2014, the Burning Man Project and ArtIsMobilUs collaborated to create the first ever AnyKidCanPaint “Our Earth”, and first three sided ARTwall at Earth Day SF. In addition ArtIsMobilUs provided an Earth Wall for everyone to paint or write what they love about about the earth.
The process for this collaboration started a couple of weeks earlier at a Burning Man Project Volunteer Appreciation Party. During the party the scissors came out and along with celebratory toasts to the volunteers there was much clipping to be done to make animal prints for the kids. Read more »
ANNOUNCEMENT: AT THE MIDDLE OF THIS POST, I SUGGEST STARTING A BOOK CLUB THROUGH THE BURNING BLOG. IF THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU, READ THE WHOLE POST AND THEN LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people recently about Burning Man’s place as a historical movement in global culture. I don’t know that this is something a lot of people are talking about - but I do think the people who want to have this conversation see me crossing the street and jump at the chance. Something about me screams “guy who will stand on the street corner talking about the transformation of self and society for a half-hour, even if it means missing his best friend’s birthday party.”
That’s never really happened, of course. I don’t have a best friend. Or get invited to parties.
There is a question out there as to whether Burning Man is the latest answer to a historical movement in society following “the death of God.” Which doesn’t necessarily mean Burning Man is a replacement for religion (which I’ve argued it cannot be), but does mean that there has long been a concern that Western society is now lacking – depending how you think about it – either a center around which everything can orbit or a bridge between the mundane and the transcendent.
Is that a niche Burning Man can fill?
The answer, right now, is a solid “maybe.” But I’ve been very struck by this question as I’ve read a read a book that (so far) hasn’t mentioned Burning Man once: Terry Eagelton’s new exegesis “Culture and the Death of God.” Sections have been jumping out at me, time and again, as potentially relevant to the broader cultural world Burning Man finds itself in.
I’ve put some quotes below. I’m using an eReader, so I can’t give meaningful page number citations, but I will group them by chapters. You might not see the relevance – it could just be me. But questions of how much guidance Reason (capital R) can give Culture (capital C), how art and aesthetics interact with society, along with the symbolic resources cultures require, and the conditions necessary to create and keep them, strike me as very relevant to Burning Man’s future … in the most abstruse, round-about way possible. But still.
Does anyone want to join me in the book? I’m only a quarter of the way through – if anybody wants to try a book-club like discussion on this blog, send me a note and let me know. Or just stop me on the street …
is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man is the author (under a clever pseudonym) of “A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City,” which has nothing to do with Burning Man. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com
This time of year, every year, as the sun returns and days grow longer, I am perpetually surprised and overwhelmed by the indubitable flourish of life that rises from a thawing long winter existence that held us cold and gray transfixed in darkness for what seems like so long. All around us rises the essence of resurrection as plants pop, bulbs shoot with flowers blooming, bees buzzing and every living thing is struggling upward towards the sun and suddenly where there was nothing but defeated pulverized grass, crawls extant these growing tendrils of life breaking through everywhere; climbing, exploding with color, painting the earth green and blasting fast across our part of the planet that is once again tilting towards our sun.
With spring sprung and flowers a poppin, whilst sugar demon peeps are peepin all seeping into your Easter EGGstatic consciousness and the vestige of winter sog slop slogging is stopping, I felt our newborn sun creeping warm across my whiskered face and my thoughts turned to reveries of my most resplendent time with some bunnies.
Those Bunnies are the Bunnies of Bunny Jam, and same Bunnies of the Billion Bunny March; a most happy hopping, seriously protesting, floppy eared kind of kindest fuzzy kin.
I’ve written about my love of Santas for I have been a Santa, drunk and boisterous, and of Clowns with whom I have marginally experimented, and I’ve mentioned my encounter with an aught two unholy alliance those unkempt ruffians formed against the Bunnies at Santa’s Black Market. My friend Mr. Evans with his fellow conspirators in thought crime, duly and most wonderfully documented the exploits of a motherload of culture jamming that manifested in the SF Bay Area in their “Tales of the Cacophony Society”, however, one group, the Santas, like all good things after one too many bottles of Pine Sol, began their inevitable slouch towards becoming a tad more of an interloper social menace party and less a group of spontaneous subversives. As the Santa stroll bar hop was hitting its stride a silly hopping kind of phenomenon rose from another holiday and rooted in carrot love, populated by gentle spring time sprung , furry familiars – raised its floppy eared head.
For Immediate Release
“We’re very excited about this year’s music lineup.” said Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Burning Man’s musical talent coordinator. “2014 is one of the most ambitious lineups in our history, and puts Burning Man squarely in the ranks of other popular Summer music festivals such as Coachella, Bonaroo, Glastonbury and the US Festival.”
The Burning Man festival will showcase five concert venues of varying sizes spread throughout the event. Two venues will be reserved for smaller performances, two for medium sized performances, and one main venue will be placed just outside the man at the six o’clock road. “We expect the Denial and Anger stages to be more intimate, and have located those within the city close to the three o’clock and nine o’clock plazas. The Bargaining and Depression stages will be located on the open playa near the two o’clock road and the ten o’clock road.”
Kübler-Ross notes that the main venue, the Acceptance stage, is large enough to support a full production truss, with professional lighting and sound. “The audience grandstands will face the Man,” said Kübler-Ross. “We plan to disassemble the Acceptance stage itself after the Friday night performance to make room for the crowds to gather for the main burn.” Kübler-Ross also noted that the grandstands themselves would stay in place and serve as VIP seating for the burning of the man.
“Our five stages have something for everyone,” said Kübler-Ross. “We expect that, as people attend the festival for the week they’ll gradually move through all the stages before finally attending the last performance on the Acceptance stage Friday night. It is a very natural progression. We understand that some people may prefer to stay at a particular stage longer, but expect everyone to experience all five stages before the end.” Read more »
Okay … a few thoughts. Three, in fact.
I have to admit that on a purely imaginative, aesthetic, level, this theme hits my sweet spot. Fires my brain, inspires my fancy, in a manner that has nothing to do with rational appreciation.
I’m prepared to admit, if pressed, that there’s no accounting for taste, but I’m announcing my bias: I can’t give a fair accounting of it because this theme makes me want to write a series of short stories about a fantasy-world bazaar loosely based on real-world Burning Man.
I’m not actually going to do that. I’m probably not actually going to DO anything about the theme at all. I’m much too lazy for that level of commitment. I just “go to Burning Man” and see what happens.
But yeah, on an inspirational level? Loving this.
2) Potentially challenging to Burner culture
For decades Burning Man co-founder John Law has been one of a small band of pranksters bringing the historic Doggie Diner Heads to cacophony and counter-cultural events. It may not have been at Burning Man, but it’s been a part of our scene for years. I’ve seen them coming around the corner, parked on the streets – it’s magic.
Being John Law he’s done the work, logged the miles, paid for the gas, and everything else out of his own pocket, without asking for a thing.
But now, after all these years, the Doggie Diner Heads need repair, and restoring three vintage, 10-foot-tall, 300lb fiberglass and metal sculptures is a pretty big job.
If you’re interested in helping, check out the Doggie Diner restoration project Kickstarter page.
It’s a great cause, he’s offering some fairly astonishing rewards at the higher levels, and it will keep a delightful part of our San Francisco Bay Area weirdness going for another few decades.
ADDENDUM – I’ve just learned that the Doggie Diner Heads have been to Burning Man twice: in 1993, and 1996. Waaaaay before my time, but clearly a part of our history!
is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man is the former mascot of a fast food haggis franchise that never made it big outside a neighborhood in Glasgow. His opinions are in no way statements of the Burning Man organization. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com
Burning Man as a cultural force is getting more interesting, not less, as it gets more mainstream attention and access to discourses about self and society. (Why yes, “Discourses about Self and Society” WAS a seminar that I took as a sophomore English major. Why do you ask?) No major cultural movement travels in a straight line, and no one can tell which aspects of Burner culture will be most challenging, or potentially revolutionary, as it catches on in new cultures and geographies.
The most interesting new challenge I see emerging comes as Burning Man is increasingly attended, referenced, and cited, by both academics and members of the tech industry – work cultures that, in their own ways, claim to be highly driven meritocracies.
Both are increasingly citing Burning Man as a model and a form of inspiration. And yet Burning Man … fundamentally and unambiguously … is not a meritocracy. Is, in fact, perhaps our most significant cultural movement at the present time to directly challenge the very idea that a meritocracy is the way we want to order society.
(Why yes, “The Way We Want to Order Society” was a post-graduate seminar I took during the summer for no credit. Why do you ask?)
This isn’t an explicit challenge, of course: one of the most interesting (and I’d argue effective) things about Burning Man is precisely that it doesn’t require anyone to sign a loyalty oath when they walk through the gate. (Unless you count a spanking …) Burning Man no more “calls out” a meritocracy any more than it calls out industrial pollution. But just as there’s no question that, taken to their even vaguely logical conclusions, the principles of Burning Man – if followed – would prevent industrial pollution, it’s pretty clear that – if followed – the principles of Burning Man would dismantle the application of meritocracies. Read more »