by Dilpreet BhullarAug 22, 2022
What used to be a low-cost event with no tickets or fees, just a few days of romping in the dust in old costumes, Burning Man is now a gathering of upper-class socialites and billionaire techies. Burning Man is a worldwide ecosystem of artists, makers, and community organisers collaborating to produce art, events, and local projects. The non-profit Burning Man Project organises the annual Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis erected in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, providing year-round support, connection, education, and funding to an ever-expanding network of Regional Burning Man communities in over 40 states in the United States, and 35 countries. Artists visiting Black Rock City have the opportunity to create artwork for a truly blank canvas, away from potential critics, immune to market forces, independent of curators, gallery owners, and collectors, and — perhaps most importantly — to be shared with an adoring and appreciative audience.
On June 22, 1986, Larry Harvey and Jerry James, the architects of the first Man, held a little function on Baker Beach in San Francisco. It has subsequently become an annual event, lasting nine days before and including Labour Day. Through the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the Burning Man organisation has worked since 2001 to deliver interactive, civic-minded artwork to the world outside of Black Rock City (now Burning Man Arts).
‘Waking Dreams’, the theme for the Burning Man 2022, examines the transformational power of dreams, both physical and metaphorical, honouring the dreamers who harness this tremendous energy in eye-opening, often surrealistic, and life-changing ways. Large-scale interactive installation art inspired by the combination of maker culture, technology, and nature is a defining feature of Burning Man. Climbing, touch, technology interfaces, and motion are all ways in which many works urge involvement. Much of the artwork is lit by fire or LEDs at night.
The art installations are the highlight of this massive festival that covers half a mile of the Black Rock Desert. For the 2022 edition, being held from August 28-September 5, 2022, one of the not-to-be-missed attractions include the 1:44 Inter-dimensional Space Time Portal by Harlan Emil Gruber and Maraya – TransPortals. Daruma by Angela Chang & the Daruma Project is another significant work. Daruma is a bright red Japanese intention-setting doll, which is six feet tall and five feet broad. Another intriguing work is Gray Davidson & Majorelle Arts' Charismatic Metafauna. Metafauna develops from a faraway ray of light into seven endangered animal species (Houston Toad, Linsang, Spotted Owl, and so on), ranging in size from people to horses. The FACE Project by TITHOREA X NAE from Istanbul, Beirut, Guatemala City, and Tehran will also attract immense attention among other several large-scale art installations planned.
One should also explore this year's art installations powered by renewable energy. The Renewables for Artists Team (RAT) provides artists with the skills necessary to transition from generators, and towards developing art installations powered by renewable energy. Alena Starostina's Colours of Nostalgia allows participants to call up different periods using an antique phone booth. Bibi Bliekendaal’s People-Powered Music, also known as The Tinkle Drum, is a massive, human-powered music box. Spacecats Final Landing by Ayda Keshtkar and the Adenium Collective: ‘Catstronauts’ disembark from large, retro-futuristic spaceships. BLACK! Asé by Erin Douglas and the Black Burner Project, standing tall on playa, are three large-scale portraits of Black Burners. Additionally, Kelly Smith Cassidy's Infinite Stare is a massive sculpture of a skull, and Lawrence Grown's Chilopod is an intelligent creature who likes to interact with humans.
The yearly festival of freedom and art attracts hundreds of participants from Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, each with their aspirations and ambitions. The celebration, in the end, leaves nothing behind. It's hard to imagine, but a massive metropolis with hundreds of camps and installations vanishes after an eight-day insanity. One comes to the desert, spending time there, but leave things in its natural state.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))