Meet the builders of Midburn CORE: The Hand of Inspiration

Midburn CORE Team
Midburn CORE Team

There are many stories about how the regional Burning Man group in Israel started. Memory  recalls general details better than specifics, and points of view might not agree. But many feel these stories don’t collide, they coincide.

Sharon Avarham, the Artistic Director for Midburn, is happy to explain the basics of his involvement. While working at a summer camp in 2011 for Jewish children in the U.S. Midwest, he was invited to go to Burning Man at the end of the summer. Having missed the chance once before, he made every effort to rearrange his schedule and go. He and his friend Daniel joined the CRTT theme camp and found themselves at home. A random encounter with other Israelis inspired them all to keep in touch once back home.

Sharon Aravham holds a print out of their missing engineer who is back in Israel
Sharon Aravham holds a print out of their missing engineer who is back in Israel

They did more than keep in touch.  A Facebook page was created and grew as other Israeli Burners discovered it. A Burner’s night was started at a bar in Tel Aviv. Theme-based gatherings were held. At one point, Sharon says, those that had been trying for years to organize a Dead Sea burn event were in touch, but nothing manifested. The growing community was content to be part of each other’s lives and share the Burning man vibe. They were hungry for it in fact!

Then there was a birthday party.

One of the participants mentioned that his mother’s 60th birthday was approaching. Why not make it a big event, Burner style? The team took hold of the idea and began adding elements for this beach birthday. In the end “Mama Burn” had a 4-meter effigy, a Temple, and other participatory elements involving the 300 guests.

Sharon explains that this worked out so well, the group was spurred to try another event. Scheduled as a decompression for those returning from Burning Man 2012, “Octoburn” was a three day event that hosted about 2,000 people. Minor problems with the police led to a desire to follow a more formal route, and the Midburn regional group was formed.

Their first official Burning Man project was a four-day crash to create and submit a CORE proposal. Sharon lead the team, pushing a professional designer and an engineer to reshape the collaborative design into a smart and build-able plan.

Build lead "Coosh Coosh" working in the sun.
Build lead “Coosh Coosh” working in the sun.

Now a group of about 40 are collaborating on a 20-foot-tall hand that glows brightly at night. While Sharon has been leading the project overall, the build lead is Itamar “Coosh Coosh” Menczer. Friendly, smiling, very focused on the effort, he spent months with Nati Goldman who designed the structural elements of the project. Itamar has been working with him, learning the methods, and then teaching them to the rest of the team. Aside from working on projects with the Midburn events, he is new to construction, but experienced at working with people in teams.

Burning Man has calmed him. Before he had first heard of this project, he had just gotten out of the army. His mind “thought in a very specific way. The way you should think.” Very regimented and military. His nickname in the army was “Short Fuse.”

Nati "GubeLuben" Goldman, the team's engineer, is present at Burning Man in spirit
Nati “GubeLuben” Goldman, the team’s engineer, is present at Burning Man in spirit

In 2012 his childhood friend Sharon invited him to a meeting about an art project “and since then [he has] been on and on about Burning Man, listening to their stories all the time.”

He has changed radically, thanks to the people in Midburn and the local community of Burners in Israel. He says, “Because I got swamped into this process, and Burning Man in general, I feel like I have changed completely. The way I think, the way I see things, the way I think about problems and solve them.”

About the CORE project Itamar says, “All of us were good friends before we came here. We’ve been interested in Burning Man a long time. This project represents our progress: Midburn started as a bunch of people that went to Burning Man and liked the idea, [and are now] a strong group that can create this huge project. The group prays for this kind of thing in Israel. They want this change, they want this mindset. They like the idea to the point where they want to become part of it.”

Alon "Viaion" Bar gives a wide desert smile
Alon “Viaion” Bar gives a wide desert smile

Yakir “Journey” Rettig, the lead media coordinator for the team, explains how he has learned so much working on this project. “A lot of us don’t have experience. I didn’t know anything about building until a couple weeks ago. Now I feel very confident about building. I even built a table a couple of days ago; I feel very good about it.”

Yakir also has praise to offer for “Vision”. Alon Bar is their fire safety lead, but does more than that. “It’s not by accident that his playa name is Vision,” says Yakir. “He has this way of just planting this seed into someone’s mind.” Vision is also known for his huge head of curly hair.

Itamar, Noam and Sharon working in Reno on the Hand.
Itamar, Noam and Sharon working in Reno on the Hand.

Vision relates his feelings about the project,  ”For me to be part of the Midburn CORE is a dream come true. I’v felt that the community has embraced me with open arms from the very beginning and since then I’ve watched it grow while knowing that I had a part in it. It sounds very hippie I know. But that’s okay because I am a hippie!”

The build is well underway. The lighting on the hand is being completed on playa and then the Hand will be ready to lift into it’s place among benches placed around it. Assuming the weather stays good, their project will be installing drums and other features and be completed Saturday.

The team installs lighting FX on the hand. The "Crazy Twins" Yaniv and Daniel Schwartz, Oren Lederman, and someone...
The team installs lighting FX on the Hand. The “Crazy Twins” Yaniv and Daniel Schwartz, Shlomie Mir, Oren Lederman

About the author: portaplaya

Todd Gardiner, aka "portaplaya", is a professional photographer in Seattle and a long time documentor of Burning Man. After years of working with CameraGirl, he moved on to documenting the event for various other teams, such as the ARTery. Back in Seattle he was part of the regional arts group, Ignition Northwest, acting as a member of the art funding council. A perennial volunteer, he is a five-time Black Rock City Ranger, a past theme camp laborer, has done his time with DPW, and is currently a supervisor for Exodus Flagging; in addition to being a photographer every single year. Some say he is just an obsessive collector of official-looking laminates to wear to high school reunions. Either way he spent time working for others ever since his first year at Burning Man in 2001.

7 Comments on “Meet the builders of Midburn CORE: The Hand of Inspiration

  • Sharona says:

    which one of you was at Camp Judea in N. Carolina??
    Wish I was going to Burning man.
    Great inspiring article.

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  • David says:

    Congratz from Israel. My spirits are with you in BRC.

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  • Amir says:

    Amazing guys!!!

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  • Nati Goldman says:

    This team is a reflection of the Israeli Burners community… motivation, passion, dedication to the Burning Man project in Israel… Growing community based on the ten principles… I’m very proud of this team and our community back home… Thanks to the organization for all the help and support…The Hand of Inspiration will inspire us for generations to come… Bravo!!!

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  • Ariana 'awkward fox' says:

    Lots of hard work and great friendship panned out. I love you all, and having worked with you all know what true bad asses you are. Enjoy the burn and I’ll see ya in the playa next time. :)

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  • Molly says:

    Love this so much! Were any of you responsible for the Menorah art car too? I’m dying to find out who designed it.

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  • Cheyenne says:

    Great information This can be suoirepr. The looked at different groups stuff therefore we are thunderstruck. We’re interested in this kind of areas. Model appreciate your hints, and profit your time inside this. Please keep updating. They are unique noteworthy spaces s

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