Are you packing and getting ready to make the journey to Burning Man this year, buying fresh playa essentials and becoming all giddy like a kid getting supplies ready for the first day of school? If so, while you’re busy arranging your tents, coconut water and fuzzy boots, bikes, baubles, sparkly bits and bottles of liquor, mannequin heads, sound systems and shade structures, chill space ephemera, swamp coolers and cases of beer, stickers, misters, boxed wine and hats you don’t wear anywhere else but at Burning Man and all your fabulous costumes so YOU will be a piece of art at Black Rock City, may I suggest that you take a moment on the ride out and read about the wonderful ART that is being built this very moment on the playa to amaze and delight you?
This year our esteemed leader, Mr. Larry Harvey has proclaimed that the theme shall be called “Caravansary “, which evokes the great crossroads of trading routes of yesteryear, traversing across deserts from the Far East to Europe where travelers and traders would stake temporary encampments to exchange ideas and goods. These were groups of dusty adventurers with camel towed transports overflowing with gold, silver, teas, silk and other fabrics colored by exotic dyes. They were intent wanderers alive with fertile transactional minds; effusive to overflowing with enthusiastic proportions of good will, and even warring tribes would set aside their differences long enough to celebrate together, to amaze and tell stories, recite poetry and make music, to exchange camels and goods in a spectacular gathering full of mystics and seekers, craftspeople and performers in the Souk, an extravaganza of the odd and bizarre. This was an era of “fully integrated culture”.
Evidently Burning Man’s theme this year is “Burning Man”.
Our artists have been working their asses off all year to GIFT you with ART you won’t encounter anywhere else. There are 270+ projects listed and they are all thought provoking and by the looks of things, we have yet another banner year of projects that will delight and inspire you. On your ride out, grab the Compendium for some in depth reading about the ART this year, and download and listen to the self guided tour with your guides Jim Tierney and Evonne Heyning.
There are SO MANY AMAZING PROJECTS that caught my eye and while not in any way exhaustive, here are a few to pique your curiosity. I’m well known to miss the absolutely coolest piece to hit the playa (see Piss Clear 2006 where I missed “Uchronia” aka the Belgian Waffle) but this year may I humbly offer you MOZE’s 2014 ART PICKS and MORE.
Embrace by the Embrace Crew
The crew who brought you the Pier, Pier 2 and La Llorona have been working in Reno’s Generator for months to bring their latest installation to fruition and right now on playa to the right of the Man, they are building their seven story structure of two quite large people in an embrace. The piece is dedicated to the now and like everything we’ve seen from this group it is expertly conceived, finely crafted, beautiful and something I suspect will become a grand meeting place crawling with Burners caught in its embrace.
Sure, every year the Man is cool. We like to see him there all week and we like to see him finally burn because really, we have to do SOMETHING with him at the end of the event. We’ve had some Men on spectacular bases, and last year’s saucer was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, especially when it burned, but this year we have a very, very large Man standing directly on the playa. What does this mean? I’m not quite sure, but as people have said, in addition to just how awesome these two projects sound, “Embrace” and the Man look like they’re also going to be cool because, well…. BIG.
There’s a lot of buzz about SHOGYO MUJO by Bart Kresa and Joshua Harker that is a 30 ft high geodesic skull that will have 3D projections wrapped on all sides with nightly video interactions between the skull and participants. As the artists write, “the skull becomes a vehicle for experiencing and channeling our visions into the physical world.” This sounds stunning and the images they’ve created provide high expectations. The Creators Project has written a comprehensive piece on SHOGYO MUJO here.
This year we also have Eternal Return by Peter Hudson. Hudzo has brought us some of the most iconic sculptures to grace the playa including 2011’s Charon and 2007’s Homouroboros to name only two and as usual he’s holding back on the details because, as he told me once, he wants participants to discover his art in the same way he discovered a piece of art that truly moved him on his first Burning Man. Peter works with big concepts and this piece discusses “cyclic existence”, something perfect for his Zoetrope iconography. He writes, “the eternal return speculates that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form, an infinite number of times across infinite time and/or infinite space.” Based on his past work, we can expect something amazing and truly splendid.
David Best is bringing the Temple of Grace to the playa this year and it is going to be splendid; a 70 feet high structure in a huge courtyard. This year’s Temple has a gracefully curved body and intricately cut wooden panels and that team has been working double time to provide our community with a sacred space this year.
Another piece that sounds exciting is Paha’oha’o by Kahai Tate (who also worked on Truth is Beauty). The piece is a 30′ tall with a 60′ base that will be illuminated with LEDs to simulate lava flowing. “There will be a ladder to allow to people to climb to the top of the caldera and sacrifice themselves into mouth of the volcano.” Climbing and sliding into the mouth of an active volcano sounds perfect for Burning Man. Affinity wrote a great blog on the entire project with more details here
The Lost Tea Party by Alex Wright aka Wreckage International sounds intriguing, the images we have look pretty cool and there’s a great article about it here. It “is a camel train like no other. Lost in the sands of time it has lost not only its way but it has lost its original form, it has trans-mutated into a procession of giant teapots.” One imagines steam inspired walkers mixed with a healthy dose of Dali-ese Darjeeling madness. Along the same lines of odd and somewhat striking in description are Eidolon Panspermia Ostentatia Duodenum (epod) by Michael Christian and Dallas Swindle and Lost Nomads of Vulcania by Joe Mross and Archive Designs, “featuring the Teluriz, one of the few remaining Vardo Class Steam Walkers built by the last surviving members of Captain Nemo’s crew”. Enough said.
In addition to all the installations that will burn this week, interactive fire sculptures abound. Merope II and Angel of the Apocalypse Feathers by Flaming Lotus Girls, interactive fire in the form of “feathers from the Angel of the Apocalypse will create a warm and inviting space for the weary playa traveler” and a “filigree stainless steel star with seven points that emit powerful flames”, Infinite Infant and the Trail of Toys by Charlie Smith brings us a flaming infant pulling a trail of toys on fire, Wheels of Zoroaster by Anton Viditz-Ward is a spinning, sparking firewood filled blazing project.
Celestial Mechanica by Jessika Welz features our solar system complete with a flaming Sun, and Wheel of Fortune by Anne Staveley, Jill Sutherland and Kasia Bilhartz includes a burning hearth and is a “interactive installation and divination tool featuring the 22 Major Arcana cards of the tarot”. Also, we have Dragon Smelter by Danny Macchiarini that will be in the 4:30 plaza. Bring a your cans to RECYCLE CAMP then stop by 5:30 and Rod’s Road with a couple cans to smelt some coins.
If you are looking for a Womb with a View, there’s The Dining Womb by John Lum and Bret Walters, a location at the axis of Sunrise and the Man that is a “24 hour lounge observatory for celebrating the passage of time and our internal clocks of hunger.” I’m told that dinner will be served.
Speaking of people gathering to dine, if you are interested in the great Wagon Train migrations caravans of the 1850s in America, Donnerarium by Badier Velji, Mikel and Sandi Kovach-Long explores some little known history of the US Camel Corps where participants “are are encouraged to pose with the articulated skeletons or ride a camel.” The piece also pays homage to “The Donner party which passed close-by in Wadsworth NV. Signs will provide historical information as well as whimsical comments.”
Will there be camels this year? I have heard from several entirely unreliable sources that there very well may or may not be LOTS AND LOTS of CAMELS on playa this year. There might be a petting zoo in the Souk. There could very well be camel spitting contests and a great albino camel that wears shaded goggles and sparkle calf pink fuzzy hoof boots. The last camels I saw out here were in 1998, and this is their environment after all, so if they do show up, try to find them because camels are works of art in their own right.
For those of you who enjoy wandering the playa at night, looking for light and soundscapes to explore, Zymphonic Wormhole by J-Kat and Shelly is an emergent, layered symphony of light and sound follows those pass through it. The Field of Echoes by Sean Coffin that is a reverberant space where sound echoes and decays slowly as it would in a cathedral, Percussion Sphere by Lucas Jones – a place to gather and unleash your musical capacities and inspirations on a giant interactive instrument.
Wind Sound Sanctuary by Robert Hoehn “is a vintage windmill-driven set of playable pipe organs, flanked by a pair of Aeolian harps made of copper, canvas and birch”. There are Musical Swings by Ron Simmer and Super Pool by Jen Lewin that is an environment of interactive light: “Imagine a giant canvas where you can paint and splash light collaboratively”. Marac Anderson brings us Rings of Light, a daylight reflective curved sculpture and a nighttime interactive rainbow ring of colors. Additionally we have a Visual Orchestra by Greg Ames/Dawn Crat and a SoundPuddle by John English that is an “interactive space of visual-acoustic synesthesia”. I suspect that cuddle puddles may spontaneously appear at or near this piece.
There are some serious projects out here this year, and I image Resticles by Deborah Colotti is at the top of that list as it explores “cojones … vajazzled with LED strands” that are “two parachutes salvaged from the British military have been tie-dyed and tailored to be tugged and stretched over a nutsack-like structure built atop two tightly tucked 14-foot trampolines” so that these Resticles can bounce on said trampolines, bringing enlightenment to all.
Along a similar vein, we have big towering sculptures including, the returning Minaret by Bryan Tedrick that you may remember from the 2010 Keyhole described as “a power spot suggestive of a totem, spinal cord, and mushroom all rolled into one”. There is The Divine Masculine by Jack Allen and Tres Fontaine, a 22 ft tall sculpture of one of the “most enduring and personal symbols of the masculine”, that may compliment Cosmic Condom by Brett McIntosh.
Also be on the look out for The Vulvatron by the Cliterrati that is “a visually iconic mobile art piece, empowering women, goddesses, and the feminine identity. The form is inspired by the often politicized and stigmatized vulva.”
There are SO MANY projects this year. Dan Fox (of Anubus and the Trojan Horse fame) brings us Alien Siege Machine, a ghost ship that “travels through space and time imperiling all it encounters”, Sean Orlando and Orion Fredericks’ are bringing Armagan, “an interactive fire art piece located at Opulent Temple. Armagan means ‘the gift’ in Turkish” and Laura Kimpton, Jeff Schomberg and Steve Atkins are building The Pyramid of Burning LOVE and there will be LandSharks by Todd Williams swimming on our ancient lake bed.
We have quite an ART SCENE out here in the middle of this god forsaken desert, monstrous structures, sublime and anarchistic, all brought out by people who LOVE ART and who work hard to craft, build, ship and then make their way out here to install something to make you think, to make you delighted like that kid on their first day of school. If you meet artists at their projects let them know you appreciate what they do. Tell your friends to go visit installations, take pictures, get inspired and find YOUR FAVORITE pieces this year.