To Build A Temple for Metropolis


The building season has begun.  As Moze posted recently, the Honorarium List is out.  As one of this year’s honorarium artists I thought I’d give a little insight into how one comes to the conclusion to take on the monumental project of building The Temple for Burning Man.

A Dusty picture by Rick Egan

It all began Sunday last year on the playa. Sunday for me has always been a day of reflection. Last year I woke up in a very reflective mood as the dust storm was raging…”Why on earth do I come out to this god forsaken hole”… <cough, cough> …”Why do I insist on making art in this inhospitable place”.  Just as my pity party was in full swing my favorite art partner Rebecca Anders finds me and suggests we go on an OPA tour (Other Peoples Art tour).  She had been having a similar morning of woe and needed to get away.  Joined by Don Cain, of DSC, we went on a deep playa excursion to see what treasures we had missed during the week while we were installing Fishbug.

Fishbug aka Chimera Sententia by Rebecca Anders & Jessica Hobbs
Fishbug aka Chimera Sententia by Rebecca Anders and Jessica Hobbs photo by nightshade,

As we moved out into the deeper playa we saw several installations including a memorable European (Netherlands and France) crew taking group pictures at their brightly colored R-EVOLUTION letters – Obscure by Liv Storli.  Then nearly out at the trash fence we happened upon Crow Mother.  Its creator Dan Glass was there prepping it to burn.  Dan is an artist from New York.  Crow Mother was a large-scale version of a Hopi Indian kachina doll in memorial to his mother, Judith Anne Collins, and adorned with her leftover objects and nick-nacks.

Crow Mother by Dan Glass photo by Bill Klemens
OBSCURE by Liv Storli photo by Ales Prikryl

This little art excursion seemed to have a positive effect on our moods.  Serving to remind us why we make art and why we share it here.  With our moods improved we headed back in towards the city.  As we made our way back we came upon The Temple – Fire Of Fires by David Umlas and Marrilee Ratcliffe.  It was a rather beautiful sight: the dust was settling, the sun was low on the horizon, and the temple was being revealed.

Fire of Fires by David Umlas and Marrilee Ratcliffe photo by Heather Gallagher (CameraGirl)

Breaking the silence that had come over our little art tour, “I want to make the Temple,” Rebecca said.  And without any pause I responded “Yes, let’s make it!”  And that is how it began.

Now here we are several months later, with addition of team member Peter Kimelman (PK from Spacecowboys), building The Temple of Flux.

Please follow along with our progress: web, FB, twitter and join us for our event May 1st, 2010 at Kelly’s Mission Rock, in San Francisco.  We will be on hand for discussions and will have prototypes and models of our design.

About the author: Jess Hobbs

Jess Hobbs

People have often described Jessica Hobbs as someone trying to lead a compulsively artistic life, which is more or less true. She started off her adventure in a small Sierra Foothill town and eventually meandered her way to the San Francisco Bay Area. Along the way Jess has worn many hats; running and creating community art programs, counseling teenagers, curating, exhibiting, designing, photographing and creating monumental interactive art experiences. She is an MFA graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been wandering and creating in the dust fest for well over a decade. Collaboration is her magic ingredient for success in work, community, art and life. This can be seen through her founding and directing work with the Flux Foundation and All Power Labs.

15 Comments on “To Build A Temple for Metropolis

  • I am soooo proud of you and Rebecca, having camped w/ you for so many years, watching your art get bigger and better. You can count on me for help on the playa…BB

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  • erny says:

    what a lovely story,thank you! excited to see the temple on the playa,as well…
    have been honored to be a temple guardian the past couple of burns and looking forward to serving again this year…wish i was able to help with the build,but,alas in LA…will,however,offer my services for the fundraiser when it happens down here…


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  • cyn says:

    Burning Man virgin here. I like hearing the thought process behind any creative work, and this, well… And that being out there seems crazy at times for veterans too.

    “Last year I woke up in a very reflective mood as the dust storm was raging…”Why on earth do I come out to this god forsaken hole”… …”Why do I insist on making art in this inhospitable place”.”

    Cool story, thanks.

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  • charleegee says:

    YES!!! The Playa reveals itself and inspires and grabs us and our imagination in so many varied, wondrous and unexpected ways… great story!!! Hope to see you on May Day!!!

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  • John Glueck says:

    The Temple, to my mind, it is one of the most important parts of the Burning Man Experience. It is one of the most powerful.

    In all the things I have seen about the event – the postings, web sites, videos, blogs and just musings, there are three things that stick out most – The Man, The Art, and The Temple.

    Your undertaking is not small and is, for lack of better words, difficult.

    Hell, it’s so much more than difficult. It’s almost impossible, and then it’s unimaginable, then it’s too big, then too small. Then it can’t be built, then it takes form. Suddenly it can be built. Then it MUST be built. Finally, it IS built.

    What you do is no small thing. I want to personally thank you. So, I will.

    I will see you May 1st. I will help you fund raise the money needed. I will do what I can to see the thought, turned into passion, turned into substance, turned into, “being”

    I will do what I can, to make sure that the Temple, “is.”

    Thank you, thank you so much for doing all that you do, to make this most impotnat part of what Burning Man is, possible.

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  • opa says:

    having been involved in a minor way in a number of temples, from the very first, i know what a difficult task it is to build a temple and consequently, to be a temple builder. i was very pleased to hear that the rumor was true… that rebecca and jess (and PK whom i don’t know… yet) are building the temple. i know that you will do honor to yourselves, the bman community and the rich history of the temple and i can’t wait to see the structure begin to unfold! all the best…

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  • Bondobob says:

    If I were a younger person I would love to help but, that time has passed for me, all I can do is appreciate your efforts.

    Here is an experience that I had that proves what you are doing is important. A few years ago I was walking through the temple thinking of all the friends I have lost over the years and I noticed a young lady that was obviously suffering from something or a memory that was painful.

    I approached her and asked if she needed a hug she nodded yes and fell into my arms and I held her for a few minutes until she stopped crying. She left, I’m sure it helped.

    What more reason justifies keeping an important tradition going.

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  • Raul says:

    I love this story of how your decision was made to undertake this daunting project. I met Rebecca as she stopped by the camp I was a part of during my second burn, and was fascinated by her and her stories about (then) being a former member of Flaming Lotus Girls, and her then current work on one of the metal sculptures outside Center Camp (BM 2006.)

    Kudos to everyone involved in building the Temple this year — like several of the posters above, I have found the Temple to be one of (if not THE) most important pieces of art on the Playa (and one of the features of Burning Man that drew me to finally attend for the first time in 2005.)

    I will also be attending the fundraiser on May 1st at Kelly’s Mission Rock — I look forward to meeting you, Jess, and saying hello to Rebecca. I may even be tempted to volunteer to participate in your crucial work creating this critical piece of this year’s Burn.

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  • Weston says:

    I would love to help out this year in the construction of the Temple. do I need to come done from Humbolt to SF on Monday, may 3rd. and to where. I heard about this from someone, I’m not sure who, and when, so confidence if it it true or not is low. Might you be able to catalyze the truth with some information?

    that i if you still would like help.


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  • tess felix says:

    I would like to participate in the construction. I have marginal welding experience.

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  • tess felix says:

    I would like to participate in the building of your temple. I have marginal welding experience.

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  • Ray says:

    Yup…sign me up to help build the temple.
    Available from August 22 onwards.
    Only because I love what we do.

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