GLC ’14: The Olympics of Art and Expression


By the morning session of GLC day two, it was clear that something fundamental has shifted in Burner culture. Enough of us were feeling uncomfortable with the term “default world” that it had to be acknowledged from the stage. “Say ‘playa-adjacent world’ instead,” GLC producer Rosie Lila told us, and the room felt relieved.

When Burning Man was one temporary city in the desert, it was an exception. The rest of the world carried on with its default settings, and the playa was the radical departure. But by now, it’s no longer serving us to distinguish between how we are “out there” versus how we are “out here.” In fact, as our GLC presenters show us, “out here” is becoming “out there.” There’s Burning going on year-round, worldwide, so let’s admit it.


International Update

Misa Rygrova, regional contact for Czech & Eastern Europe, stepped up to the mic and showed us the latest stats about just how global Burning Man has become. There are 44 organized Burner regions on six continents – she didn’t even want to count the cities and languages. This year on the playa there were more than 100 international art projects, including seven of the C.O.R.E. effigies.

In the extended playa — as other post-default-world Burners like to call it — five of the regional burns had more than 1000 participants this year. Three of the events sold out. Even some of the precompression and decompression events sold out. The 10 Principles have been translated into in Russian, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese, and Greek. “People are hungry for what’s happening,” Misa says.


AfrikaBurn in South Africa needed special mention. There were 10,000 people at AfrikaBurn this year. That’s the population of Black Rock City in 1997, if you’re counting. There were 120 camps, 100 mutant vehicles, and 150 art installations up to 100 feet high.

Nowhere in Europe sold out at 1300 people, which is the most its location can handle.

Misa brought Rei Dishon, regional contact for Israel, up on stage to talk about Midburn, which is currently instituting many of the complex structures that form a sustainable Burn, including a generous art budget, a Midburn Skool for bringing noobs up to speed, a wiki for storing institutional memory and best practices, and Tela Labs, a maker/hacker space.

Misa pointed out a fascinating but often overlooked aspect of this global culture. The regionals have dramatically different contexts. Burner culture is not just a desert thing anymore. Some regionals are covered in snow. Three of them — Germany, Lithuania, and Ireland — are held in old castles. It’s happening. We’re everywhere.


You can follow the ongoing coverage of GLC here on the Burning Blog and on Twitter using the hashtag #bmglc14.

Photos by Sidney Erthal

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

, a.k.a. Argus, was publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website from 2016 to 2019. He joined the Comm Team as a volunteer in 2010 and as year-round staff in 2014. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. His first Burn was in 2008.

2 Comments on “GLC ’14: The Olympics of Art and Expression

  • Corporal Tunnel says:

    Great to hear AfrikaBurn got a special mention!

    Just a heads up: there weren’t 10 000 people at AfrikaBurn this year…because it hasn’t happened yet.

    It happens April 28 – May 4.

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  • Flabio says:

    I’ve alway felt the term ‘default world’ was a misnomer. It’s actually the other way around. Burning Man is the default world. By default, we are supposed be creatures that create, that love, and that give.
    But somewhere along the way our humanity has changed. We left the life we were supposed to live for a false happiness. Burning Man welcomes us home to the spirit we lost, to a place we can find out who we are.
    And now, like a beautiful virus, we will bring this ethos back to rest of the world.

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