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.
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.
Sometimes, when the citizens of Black Rock City are confronted with a challenge, they turn it into an art project. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those times.
The street signs that adorn every corner of BRC are not only beautiful, they’re functional. Not only are they functional, they are critical to public safety. When that ambulance is looking to find YOU, they need to know what street they’re on. SO DON’T REMOVE STREET SIGNS!
Now, despite what we say, we know it’ll happen anyway. So let’s solve this with an art project! Here’s how …
Adopt a street corner in your neighborhood, and add new, aesthetically pleasing, informative street signs of your own making! (Please don’t put stuff on the existing sign-posts, though.)
We’re calling this the Adopt a Street Sign (ASS) project, because we’re 12-years old.
Radical Self-Expression, meet Communal Effort. BOOM. Make babies.
Lastly, Leave No Trace! Make sure to MOOP the street corners at the end of the event!!
During Exodus (when oh so many of you depart Black Rock City for your other home), wait times can run from anywhere to 3-9 hours to get from camp to the highway. And to state it simply, we cannot get vehicles off of the playa any faster than we already do.
To make the inevitable Exodus wait more sane, we’ll be implementing Pulsing on Sunday and Monday this year, 24 hours a day (or until the need dissipates).
Pulsing is a system of moving vehicles at regular intervals toward the highway on Gate Road to avoid the long slow creep that challenges the sanity of even the most patient among us. With Pulsing, vehicles stop and turn off their engines. Then, every hour, vehicles are “pulsed” a mile forward all at once. (Tune your car radio to BMIR 94.5 FM or the Gate Advisory Radio Station 91.5 FM for Exodus info.)
Pulsing does NOT get you out of the city more quickly, it just lets you take a break from driving.
Pulsing is the perfect time to create One-Hour Neighborhoods. Pack water, snacks, instruments and anything else to make the wait more fun. Have a one hour dance party and meet your neighbors in line. Jonathan did … here’s what happened:
My friend and I had such an amazing Exodus the night of the Temple burn I feel compelled to share.
It all happened accidentally. It was my first Burn. I knew about the Pulse system, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. After the first pulse, I started my watch to see how long we would stop. It was an hour, to the minute. During that time, I talked with a couple strangers enthusiastically about my Burn experience.
After the next pulse, I started thinking about all that I could do in the next hour, if it really was an hour in-between pulses and not random. I could go for a run in the desert straight out from my car. I could go talk to more strangers. I ended up putting 3 lighted candles on my car so I wouldn’t lose the car if I wandered too far.
I met another Burner named Taryn. She had the brilliant idea that ended up being the spark for the “after-burn” as we so fondly called it later. She asked, “Why aren’t there tents out there [pointing to the open playa next to the 16 lanes of cars leaving BM] hosting parties, food, etc?” I replied, “you are absolutely right! There could be art cars hosting dance parties to keep people awake. Small camps giving out coffee for safety.” But then, it hit me. We could do that. We could actually do that after the very next pulse. s long as the break was predictable, we could do this and a lot more. We waited. Like clockwork, the next pulse started 1 hour after stopping.
Taryn was up for helping me unpack and pack the van to get our stove and other supplies out. So, we spent 10 minutes getting stuff out. Then we fired up the stove and made dinner – from scratch! It was delicious. Spaghetti with sausages and a bit of sauce. We then started planning the next phase (we still don’t have a good name for those hour long stretches — micro-burns?). We wanted dessert and coffee. After 50 min, we knew it was time to pack up and get ready. We did it with no problem and were ready to go when the pulse started again.
Dessert was fried macaroons with Nutella. Simply amazing! French press Peets coffee. Perfect combination. It was this break when we really knew we were on to something. We were flat-out loving the Exodus from Burning Man! We started talking about how cool it was — to have these breaks to look forward to, to meet someone new, to have deep conversation on the way out of the playa instead of bemoaning how long it was taking. The “Burn” vibe was very much with us.
We did this 4 different times. I had been calculating our distance to the road by the marker that said 4 miles to the highway. We had potentially one more break. It was going to be our best break – a dance break. We were going to wake up Taryn’s RV and get them outside dancing to our Jambox speaker. However, we hugged good-bye in case there were no more breaks.
As it tuned out, we did exceed our .4 mile average pulse and made it all the way to the road. My friend Rico and I looked at each other. We saw it in each other’s eyes — we were disappointed. We did not have 1 more hour together to enjoy our dance break. Then, we thought — this is crazy! It is 3 AM and we want to stop for another hour?! But we did and it was magical.
BMIR, Burning Man Information Radio (94.5FM on the playa and on the internet), is the best way to let the citizens of Black Rock City know about your theme camp, art installation or events. Now that you know your playa address it’s the perfect time to create a promo telling every one all about it. BMIR would LOVE to have them in hand before they leave for the playa so they can start running them on the air ASAP.
BMIR is going to start running theme camp and event promo announcements as soon as you can get them to us. You can tune in to BMIR via the internet and hear about what the playa has in store for you. Many people now stream BMIR on their smartphones during their drive to the playa. We’ll be live from the playa sometime on Wednesday 8/20 — listen in to find out about the weather, late breaking news you need to know, and info on how the city is coming together.
If someone in your camp is an audio whiz they can send us your promos at any time. Not sure how to record something ahead of time? No worries! J Kanizzle, BMIR’s Co-Station Manager, has put together this handy tutorial that shows you how to download and configure Audacity, a free audio recording program. The tutorial then takes you through the basics of creating your very own announcement.
Once you have something recorded, or if you have any questions, please email BMIR at BMIR@Burningman.com before August 20.
Remember to let people know the basics: what, where and when. Please keep announcements under 60 seconds and send them to us in .mp3 format at 320kbps. Please don’t send us 10 announcements for all of your individual events. Most camps send one announcement.
Can’t make the August 20 deadline? You can also put your announcements on a CD or flash drive and hand deliver them to BMIR on the playa. BMIR is located in Center Camp, 1:15 and Rod’s Road, right between Ranger HQ and The Earth Guardians.
Now if you just can’t pull this off, no worries. The BMIR Production Studio will be open every day from 12N to 4PM during the event. You can come in and we will help you record an announcement right on the playa.
What is The Caravansary Souk?
This year the Man will be surrounded by a colorful circle of tents known as the Souk. This new public space will be a bustling marketplace where nothing is for sale, devoted to gifting, cultural exchange, interactive performance, and a playful commerce in ideas. Stalls in the Souk will be staffed by 25 unmerchant groups from the Burning Man Regional Network.
Celebrate the Souk Grand Opening! Monday, August 25 at the feet of the Man, 7-9 pm
Every journey on the Silk Road needs a celebration of welcoming and rejoicing with fellow travelers. All are invited to participate in the Grand Opening/Going Out of Business Extravaganza in the Caravansary Souk. As the sun sets on the first of seven magical nights, explore and discover exotic delights and unattainable wares as you connect with your community from around the world.
The festivities will be kicked off by a grand parade starting at the Everywhere pavilion and leading into the Souk. Those who wish to join in the parade are asked to assemble at Everywhere by 6:30 pm. The extravaganza in the Souk will commence at 7:00 pm and run through 9:00 pm. Performers of all stripes invited!!
Contact email@example.com if you want to perform or contribute in some way!
Al-Ari Invites Traveling Performers to Participate in the Souk!
To enliven the festive atmosphere of the Souk plaza, caravan master Larry “Al-Ari” Harvey extends his personal invitation to itinerant jugglers, acrobats, fortune tellers, magicians, seers, fakirs, sadhus, strongmen, sword swallowers, fire eaters, dervishes, human statuary, and dancing sign-shakers to bless us with the gift of performance in the Souk throughout the week.
Caravan Master Al-Ari invites all travelers to enjoy the exotic delights and unattainable wares of the Souk at the Feet of the Man. Un-merchants from five continents will be selling nothing at giveaway prices during our week-long GRAND OPENING / GOING OUT OF BUSINESS celebration.
To enliven the festive atmosphere of the Souk plaza, he extends a special invitation to itinerant jugglers, acrobats, fortune tellers, magicians, seers, fakirs, sadhus, strongmen, sword swallowers, fire eaters, dervishes, human statuary, and dancing sign-shakers to bless us with the gift of performance at all hours of the day and night.
Levitationists, situationists, and contortionists will be greeted warmly in the Souk, as will stilt walkers, plate spinners, sitar players, mechanical snake charmers, hula hoopers, puppeteers, and alien bellydancers. However, the Caravan Master warns that sound systems, cover bands, singer-songwriters, and anyone violating the prohibition on commerce will be chased from the Caravansary like wild dogs.
Performers are asked to check in with the INNKEEPER staff upon arrival at the Souk, and to leave no trace upon departure, but are not required to register in advance. Al-Ari adds that he has a special place in his heart for storytellers and mad poets, and hopes that the 1,001 minutes of the Souk will be graced by thrilling tales of adventure and flights of fancy.
Furthering the dialogue about Kids at Burning Man that Caveat resurrected in his post Growing Up Burning, I’d like to present the perspective of a 15 year old Burner who has attended the event 12 times. Her name is Sydney, and she’s no longer attending the Burn while she’s in high school (apparently, it’s a big deal to miss the first week of high school), but has plans to return as soon as she is able.
I’ve known Sydney since she was 8 years old, and I’ve always been impressed at how easily she seemed to adapt on playa. She had an ever-rotating cast of friends who were delighted to take her on adventures, entire camps that considered her their mascot, and a camp-family who adored her and tolerated her terrible manicures.
I sat down with her recently (blue hair, cool glasses, brace on her knee from a snowboarding accident) to ask about her experiences growing up a Burner. The following interview is edited for clarity only based on the transcript of our discussion. The words are hers. Questions in bold are mine.
Is there a good time for kids to start going to Burning Man? Should you take them when they’re babies, or wait until they’re a certain age?
I started going when I was 1 year old, and I went all the way until I was 12. For me it was just a normal thing; my brain had adjusted. That’s how I grew up. The more that kids only see the real world before going to Burning Man, they might not take in the deeper meaning of the event and might think it’s just a party in the desert. Meeting all these great people and see all this interesting art … it really affected me.
I think a lot of my art interest comes from Burning Man, all the kinds of art I do. But I’ve also met a bunch of amazing people at Burning Man, and I think that changed me in terms of experiencing lots of things. I’ve done so many things I wouldn’t have been able to do in Oakland.
What are some of the best things you remember doing at Burning Man, that you could only have done at Burning Man?
I really enjoyed volunteering in the Black Rock Boutique. I got to help sort clothes, but I also got to take the clothes I wanted! Getting to see the Man and the Temple burn are really big parts of Burning Man that I’ll always remember. I also got to meet PeeWee Herman.
Growing up at Burning Man and seeing people naked, in costumes, cross-dressing…does that translate to real life at all?
I see pretty much everything as normal. If I see a guy in a skirt, I pretty much don’t think anything except that he chose to wear a skirt that day … like I got up and chose to put on these socks this morning. I’m not going to get judged for wearing these socks, why should he get judged for wearing a skirt?
Does this kind of acceptance you’ve learned at Burning Man help you out in high school, something that is a traditionally difficult time for people?
It makes it easier and harder: I’m really open-minded, but when I see that other people aren’t as open-minded, and I can’t MAKE them be open-minded, it’s frustrating. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be so open. My friends are also really open, though, and I learn from them and they learn from me. We’ll go up to strangers in Berkeley and just start having a conversation with them — I think that Burning Man has helped me do this. But Burning Man has also made me a bit closed-minded towards “average” people — I’ll look at them and think “ooo, they’re not going to be cool, I have to find the weird, cool people” … but then I imagine the normal people are also thinking the same thing about us. So I talk to them anyway.
We’re open to hanging out with whoever. My friend group has a punk, two hippies, and then my friend and I who aren’t … anything in particular … but we’re all just coming together and having a good time. Our differences don’t matter.
Were there any downsides to growing up at Burning Man?
I was always the weird kid in class when I was 7 … short dyed hair, glasses, braces, I was the underdog. I was bullied for a couple of years for being weird. The bullies didn’t like that. I wouldn’t blame that on Burning Man though, it’s just more my specific experience, and my willingness to be a weird kid.
When you were out exploring Burning Man, were you treated well by strangers?
Everyone was really nice to me. If I was biking along, people would come invite me to do things, I’d just start talking to people in line. People would always ask me about being a kid at Burning Man — I got a lot of attention for it. I felt like the VIP of Burning Man!
Did they seem to enjoy the fact that there were kids at Burning Man?
YES! When I was little, I’d tell them “I’ve been to Burning Man 7 times!” and they’d say things like “it’s my first time! And you’re 7 and you’ve been to Burning Man a lot more than me!” I felt super cool for that. I’d talk to someone who looked like a hard-core Burner and they’d tell me it was their 3rd time, and I’d say “it’s my 12th burn”. I had a lot of confidence for having gone to Burning Man so many times. It was my place.
What about the people who say that Burning Man is not as cool as it used to be?
There’s a lot more people recently who have been going just for the party, and not for the art. It’s an ART FESTIVAL. If you just come to party and get wasted, that’s not what Burning Man is about. If you’re seeing it as a big party … it sort of is, but it’s an ART party. It’s not just for coming to drink.
Is there anything else you’d want to say to people attending Burning Man?
Take risks. Don’t take BIG risks, but take … a good amount of risks. If you’re going to go to Burning Man, be open-minded. Push your boundaries. If you’re not comfortable with something, try it anyway. Explore, experiment, try new things. Get to know yourself.
————- Sydney is a high school student in Oakland, California.
Brody is a year-round member of the Art Department who likes ponies and is searching for someone to teach her how to chainsaw-carve wooden bears.
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”.
Peter 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.”
Also 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.”
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.
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.
At 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.