As we considered the design for the base of the Man this year, we were keenly aware that this was the brainchild of our founder, Larry Harvey. Every year he convened his close comrades and cooked up the design he felt would push our edges, support the message of the theme, create a place for Burning Man participants to connect, feel inspired, and play. The Man Base needs to hold space, support the Man as the beacon of our city, and light up the night each year.
So our feelings were complicated. Wanting to honor Larry, wanting to celebrate his creative legacy, wanting to express our own inspiring message of what lives on — that we are, in fact, alive. We have changed, yes. We are changing, and the theme, Metamorphoses, speaks to that. And this Man Pavilion also opened the door for change.
Our first steps were a bit clumsy, drawing on napkins, thinking through what art would work for the theme, seizing the opportunity to craft our own exploration, and then realizing, wait a second. There’s another way. The artists. The community. The architects. What if we invited a small group of creatives to create a sketch? A basis of inspiration, a path forward, a glimpse of what could be through the eyes of these friends and family. We were making it up. Changing our methods by trying something new. We called eight phone numbers: Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, John Marx, Andrew Johnstone, Christian Ristow, Goatt Koch and Jules Sparks, Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu, Dave and Marrilee Archer, and Lew Zaumeyer.
These were the artists, the builders, the architects, the thinkers, the people we invited to share their vision with us. We asked only for sketches. We made no promises. We told them we were finding our way forward, planning to honor Larry by aiming high and leaping forward. We shared that we were asking them to help us in this way, and they all said yes!
On January 7, we received these sketches from these members of our community. Each artist, each sketch, is something we value as a unique expression of that person or team’s willingness to gift us, to participate in our learning, to be, well, radical. We love that, we appreciate them, and we’re excited to keep experiencing all the ways in which Burning Man can shift, change, experience, metamorphose. Next year? Who knows? We’re trying things on for good measure, learning as we go, and sharing with you as it happens.
Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti visioned an architecturally ornate structure to support the Man.
Architect John Marx submitted his elegant globe and winged pavilion filled with spaces for interactivity and performances.
Andrew Johnstone developed a base that would temporarily conceal the Man wrapped inside the intricate petals of a lotus flower.
Christian Ristow sketched the Man as the end product of a metamorphosing process, happening in front of your eyes.
Goatt Koch and Jules Sparks imagined the Man overlooking implements of travel, a common source of metamorphosis and change in our lives along with the organic shape of a tree.
Dave and Marrilee Archer imagined flowing organic forms supporting the Man and each other with a decidedly non-organic, intricate center core wrapped with double helix ramps.
Architect Lew Zaumeyer played with the idea of the Four Elements in relation to metamorphosis in his dodecahedron-based structure with long ramped approaches from the four cardinal points.
The Selected Design
Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu fashioned the Man gorgeously cocooned by a winding, ascending walkway, lit at night from within, throwing patterned light across the playa.
“The cocoon is lit internally… revealing cracks from the transformation.”
We are extremely grateful to all the artists who contributed their ideas to this process. It was not an easy decision or an easy process. One thing that came up repeatedly during the evaluation was speculation whether Larry Harvey might or might not have liked any particular design element. If we learned anything in the process, it was that such things are now beyond knowing, and that we will have to make our own way forward from now on without his guidance. The design we selected is a fitting reflection of that evolution in this year of Metamorphoses.