Burn Wall Street: An Update from Otto Von Danger

Burn Wall Street 2012

I was fortunate enough to receive an update from Otto Von Danger on the progress of his large scale installation for this year’s Burning Man: Burn Wall Street.

Otto’s been part of the Burning Man landscape for quite a while now, first as part of the Man Crew, building the Man and Man base and then branching out to work on other projects such as the yearly return of his Frog Bat , Burning Man 2010’s Megatropolis and his Hippie/Raver Powered Lawn Chair. If you know him, you know he is driven to create large tangible things with a sense of humor and his work is not only interactive but he enjoys blowing it up before he burns it much to the delight of all.

Burn Wall Street is his most ambitious project to date and he told me,  “I’ve always been political, but this is my first art with a political meaning” and his aim is simple. Burn Wall Street is a fiercely “non-partisan to the core” installation that touches on everything from the Bill of Rights and Voter turnout to what Otto says are the two main goals of his piece:

Get Money Out of Politics and Regulate Wall Street.

Otto explains this as only he can,

 Both left and right, the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, they’re always fighting about these wedge issues, but Burn Wall Street wants them to put that BS down for a minute, put away your Bibles and Manifestos, and come together to accomplish two things. We need to TAKE THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS and make it an even process with a constitutional amendment so the courts can’t come back and fuck us, and then we have to actually REGULATE WALL STREET. If they can put a kid in prison for selling drugs, they should be able to put a banker who steals millions of dollars in jail… really in prison, where they can introduce him to his new life partner Bubba. No more slaps on the wrist. These people are robbing your grandmother and my grandmother and everyone’s kids and walking scot free.

Once that’s taken care of, right and left can go back to bickering over their wedge issues, but this needs to be done now.

Mike Matel paints the Bill of Rights

The press loves tension between the Right and the Left.  Mr. Von Danger says, “There is both left and right at Black Rock City but Burning Man supersedes that kind of shit. It is the perfect place for a project like this.”  He was interviewed by NPR at KUNR this week and you can hear the interview here.

In keeping with the idea of coming together, Burn Wall Street is trying to get speakers from all sides of our politics to speak at the 9 am keynote speeches throughout the week including Sharron Angle to give the Tea Party point of view, Ron Paul to deliver his Libertarian thoughts and Reverend Billy to discuss Occupy Wall Street.

Currently his team is prefabricating the buildings and working on the Bull at the Salvagery which he says is the “NIMBY of Reno”. Another Burning Man project, Pier 2 is also being worked on in the same space. They have the first two buildings, Chaos Manhattan Bank and Meryl Lynched near completion and will be hitting the playa with trucks full of the project on August 12th.  Murals for the insides of the buildings are being painted now.

They believe they will are placed between 9:00 and the Man, slightly behind the promenade that goes from 3:00 to 9:00. There won’t be any way to miss Burn Wall Street as Otto says, “It’s bigger than the Man and the Temple combined and the tallest building, the Goldman Sucks Building at nine stories and 72 feet will be the highest point where you can climb to and see the playa, up the twisted jungle gym inside.”

Desert Arts Preview

I saw Otto Von Danger and Joe Olivier, aka Exact Lee, Burn Wall Street’s Facilitator and Executive Producer, speak at the Desert Arts Preview in San Francisco a few weeks back and Otto made it very clear that Tecate Park, the BWS version of Zuccotti Park where spontaneous camp cities sprang up during the Occupy protests, was in no way to have Burners Occupying it with tents and encampments because the powers that be do not allow camping directly on that particular spot on the playa. So… occupying Tecate Park would be something Burn Wall Street certainly discourages, even if it would reinforce the interactivity of the space that is entirely inspired by the real Occupy camps and protests in New York City. Got it?

Daily at 9:00am there will be keynote speakers and the ringing of the Wall Street Bell and one of the more sublime happenings at BWS will be in the Bank of UnAmerica where Participants are encouraged to bring in pinks slips and foreclosure notices to tack to the walls to be burnt when the entire structure is incinerated on Friday night at 9.

And with the Friday night burn will be a highly guarded pyrotechnic display that Otto says, will be “something never seen before, not one big boom, but lots and lots of them” and Exact Lee put it well at the Desert Art Preview when he said, “I promise you that when our pyroshow starts on Friday night, you will be in fear for your physical safety.”

Burn Wall Street Buck by David Silverman

The Burn Wall Street crew is a cohesive bunch this year and Mr. Von Danger invites people who are still looking to get involved to go to the website and send your resume to Otto Von Danger (otto@burnwallstreet.net).  There is a lot of work still to do and if you can work in Reno before the event you can then work on playa to install it.  If you can’t volunteer your time and skills, you can always donate money and or supplies using the URLs below:


Burning Man Spark call out for stuff

While they are a funded Honorarium project, the project is currently about 16 thousand dollars short of their goal and could use a donation from you for any amount. With your cash donations you are buying “collateral debt obligations that are guaranteed to fail” that can be redeemed for Burn Wall Street Bucks designed by Black Rock City’s one and only Tubador (aka David Silverman).

Otto also sends this warning, “While redeeming your BWS Bucks at the Chaos Manhattan Bank be aware that Chaos Manhattan will charge you for standing on the floor, looking out the window, using a pen or talking to a teller so by all means don’t ask the teller for a pen.”

Burn Wall Street can be found on the web at:



About the author: Moze


John Mosbaugh aka Moze is a SF Bay Area heretic and writer who's been hauling himself out to Black Rock City since the Nebulous Entity first beckoned him to check out this phenomenon known as Burning Man. Moze is a "Life Collector" who scribbles down encounters with you to share on the blog. He enjoys the hyper reality of that week in the desert enough to keep coming back. He's been on the Burning Man web team since aught two and has written for Piss Clear and the YEP (Yahoo Education Project). He doesn't speak for the org and he finds you fascinating. He celebrates you and loves it when you take away ideas from Burning Man and share them with the rest of the world. He likes to make grilled cheese on Burn Night afternoon and gift it to you because you're probably hungry. Moze is a big fan of fire, art, freedom and community.

3 Comments on “Burn Wall Street: An Update from Otto Von Danger

  • Richard says:

    I do not concur with Otto on regulating Wall Street. It is HEAVILY regulated now. Just like the fat cats like it. Regulation stifles competition and breeds corruption. If DC and WS were disconnected WS firms that screw up would lose customers and go out of business and fresh new competitors would create trading floors to sop up the disenfranchised customers. Lobbyists love regulation, even the root word, regular, smacks of status quo. That’s who really runs this country, Lobbyists.
    BTW, I probably align with Otto on other issues so I will continue to let him address them.

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  • tika says:

    protesting capitalism at a capitalist event.

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  • FM Bandit says:

    While I appreciate efforts to stay superficially nonpartisan, the Occupy movement is not a left-wing Tea Party. Occupy is, strictly speaking, a loosely-organized group of people from a variety of political perspectives (most of them progressive, sure) who engage in civil disobedience in order to obstruct complacency with a broken system. The Tea Party is a media creation designed to prey upon ignorance and identity politics in order to give the illusion of mainstream legitimacy to far-right beliefs and complaints.

    Finally, the two stated goals are, against their best efforts, quite political. Regulating the financial system and removing money from politics are things you’ll hear over and over at any Occupy event, whereas the Tea Partiers like to squawk that financial regulation is a step away from Nazism and their perspective benefits immensely from the amount of corporate dollars in politics.

    Because of Occupy’s image problem, I understand wanting to distance oneself from their platform, but if you’re Occupy then own it. It’s a bit like me saying that I have nothing to do with the Tea Party, but I want to cut all entitlement programs and demand the President’s birth certificate. Preach what you practice!

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