Announcing the Multiverse Man Base!

Each year, we look towards the desert and imagine what our annual journey there will hold. The inevitability of not knowing what will happen during our time at Black Rock City is matched only by the certainty of one thing: the Man will burn.

On playa, our time together orbits around the rise and fall of the Man: the construction, experience, release, and celebration of our city’s central ritual. Over time so many other rituals and processes have evolved, including our Temple, our core teams and how they function. The ways in which we congregate and live together have also changed, and grown. One thing stays constant: the Man will burn.

So, when we contemplate the structure that will support the Man, we do so with a sense of responsibility and a desire to create a meaningful experience for the community and their journey to the desert. It is our creative contribution to the art on the playa, and we care deeply about the end result.

Over the many years that Burning Man founder Larry Harvey explored the central constellation of the Man, its base, and the theme, we’ve enjoyed flights of fancy, interactive workshops, Regional effigies, and grand spaces. We now find ourselves in a new world where his spirit lives on, and we seek to find our new voice through collaboration.

Some of this collaboration involves long-term established relationships with the Man Base crew. Other approaches include inviting artists to make contributions, such as David Best’s centerpiece at Golden Spike last year and the Civic Design Plazas by Benjamin Rowe, Kelly Smith Cassidy and Man Base crew, which we will repeat this year.

Click on photos to see details

For the second year in a row, we invited a few artists and architects to share their visions and offer us a sketch as a point of departure for our construction of the Man base in Black Rock City 2020.

Those we invited are all incredible creators and contributors. We are grateful they agreed to share their thoughts and sketches with us, and to release them into the hands of the Man crew, with direction from the Art & Civic Engagement team. This generosity gives us a range of voices and interpretations of the annual theme, which is The Multiverse this year.

We are pleased to now share these artists’ ideas and inspirations with you, along with our ultimate choice for the 2020 Man base.

The Submissions

Tyson Ayers (Resonant Arts Collective) stands the Man upon a Torus-shaped Aeolian Harp activated by the desert winds. 



Michael Christian’s Doors to the Multiverse celebrates the multitude of realities that exist within the unified experience of what we call Burning Man.



Zachary Coffin and Marisha Farnsworth proposed an environmentally conscious piece made of Beetle Kill lumber surrounding a movable, suspended boulder that activates a gimbal that, in turn, shifts the Man atop his Pavilion.



Sky Edge’s The Man Among the Multiverse can be viewed as an incomplete unit cell of an Iron crystal, with the man standing tall among the remaining atoms, or, more simply — a man standing atop, among, and within the multiverse.


Nick Guerts and Ryan Elmendorf’s Gravity Bowl seeks to generate a surreal physical and emotional experience by creating a space where the rules of physics work slightly differently and our own basic assumptions of reality are challenged. 



Bree Hylkema envisions the Man atop a sun-shaped, highly stylized Pavilion with internal spaces for reflection and interactive experiences. 



David Normal pays tribute to the Man with the Hat surrounded by a mechanized lotus flower. 



Christina Sporrong’s beautiful submission imagines sweeping, circular shapes emerging from the playa floor.



Josh Zubkoff plays with the notion of the Man’s image reflected below him — in a mirror? Or not? You’ll have to get closer to determine that for yourself. 


The Selected Design

Kate Greenberg envisions the Pavilion as the intersection of five bubble universes. She says:

“A multiverse may be the coexistence of multiple universes separated by space, time, or dimension. We may exist in one, some, or all of these simultaneously; however, we continue to find ourselves at the center of that which we call our general reality. When we look beyond what we know about this reality, perhaps to find something larger than ourselves, we can’t help but also seek to find humanity in the vastness of this expanding all.

As a concept for the 2020 Man Pavilion, this wood structure represents five bubble universes held in suspended animation at the center of the Burning Man Multiverse. Four entry portals form connections like cosmic wormholes, and reveal the interstitial Space that is holding all possible futures and realities in quantum constellation.

The fifth cardinal direction connects to the Man. Through this portal, a mirrored man reaches down. Looking up, you are mirrored back.

In this Multiverse, YOU are the Man. The Man is YOU.

You are the true centrifuge for your experience, and your energy has the power to expand this universe as you know it.” 


We are incredibly grateful to all the artists who contributed their ideas to this process. Our choice was arrived at with much thoughtful consideration. One can only imagine a Multiverse in which all the designs are built!!

About the author: Kim Cook

Kim Cook

Kim Cook is Burning Man's Director of Creative Initiatives. She works on the frontier of exploration for projects and collaborations that extend Burning Man culture into the world. Most recently, Cook facilitated the team for "virtual Burning Man 2020" with 10 technology platform partners offering a range of digital, dynamic, and interactive approaches to the "Multiverse". She successfully builds urban, regional, national, and international projects that increase mutual understanding, advance civic well being, elevate cultural engagement, and further the aesthetic design elements of communities.

45 Comments on “Announcing the Multiverse Man Base!

  • eggchairsteve says:

    Mirror Man! LOVE it!

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    • Synapse says:

      I so wish people actually understood the symbolism of the man: in the presence of impermanence and mortality we can choose to create. For more and more each year the man is a symbol of cultural excess: an unbelievable fire, incredible fireworks, an outrageous party night.
      Why we are becoming a “festival”.

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      • TheRealMirrorMan says:

        Burning since 2003 and this will be my last year volunteering.
        I get in early and I get out early.
        The Man has been gentrified with in-your-face millionaires and is now littered with toxic festival consumers OD-ing on selfie madness.
        Visit the airport starting on Wednesday. Chauffeurs picking up arriving celebrities.
        Be it.
        Will be going to regional burns instead.
        Fuck your burn.

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      • Mariah says:

        I too have struggled with some of the things I have seen. But who am I to judge the impact of the man, of the burn, of the experience. Just because some choose to celebrate or capture the moment differently than I, does not make the impact any less great. So while some will take endless selfies, and other will sit alone and reflect, the moment to each may be just as significant. The idea and the reality of the multiverse will converge at this spot. I look forward to being a part of it.

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      • SinglePly says:

        Yes Synapse!

        Will Black Rock City 2020 finally be the year that the affluent-white-privileged-elitists destroy Burning Man? Will the rich and powerful completely overwhelm us with their gross and and wretched displays of wealth and dominance and contract celebrity chefs and prostitutes flown in to the airport?

        Will we resist and overcome the rich and powerful purveyors of bad taste? It’s time for us real Burners to take back Burning Man! Crush the dreaded Oligarchs!

        Also, the Man Base looks like a Cineplex Cinemas.

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      • Bunny says:

        The Man represents the patriarchy and how every year we burn it down. He also represents white supremacy and homonormativity; we burn that down too. The Man symbolizes diversity and inclusiveness and how people of color are so well represented on the playa. The Man represents our enlightenment – our spiritual and intellectual and moral superiority to those who are not enlightened like us. For those people, we must pray they see the light, or parish in the flames for eternity.

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      • Proximatosisizing says:

        I agree with Synapse here – there should be more doctrine prescribed as to what symbolism is intended and what unique understandings are disallowed. This way, more people could enjoy the art exactly as someone else intended them to enjoy it as opposed to having genuine feelings. I think that people who are just looking for a party and to celebrate art and humanity and community and to stay warm by proximating towards combusted art, should do so in the comfort of their own giant desert art non-festival thing, not BM. Going to BM just to have fun, it’s like, treating a gunshot wound with gauze. Anyways, are rich people still allowed?

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  • Volodymyr says:

    Looks amazing. Can’t wait to see the realization.

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  • Hipolito Medrano says:

    (O . o)

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  • Daddy Strong Legs says:

    Awesome submissions, and an excellent selection! Can’t wait to see it come to life this year!!

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  • Michael Halverson says:

    Absolutely stunning!!!

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  • Anon says:

    Great choice! Thank you for sharing other submitted designs. It really helps appreciate all of the creativity from the various artists and their thought processes.

    I hope that this year’s end result actually mirrors what the proposed plan looks like. Last year was very disappointing to have such significant changes from the artist proposal drawing to what we saw on playa. No stairs and no getting close to the Man. It’s easy to make a beautiful drawing and I hope the Man crew took a better and closer look at the proposals, including measurements (hello last year’s unworkable stairs) so we don’t get excited for something that won’t ever exist. And, of course, silence from the Org as to those changes in the Man and why the changes were necessary. I hope this post leads to greater transparency.

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    • Dustin says:

      The artists conception can’t always work structurally and things aren’t necessarily done to scale. If last year’s structure was to be the way the artist created it the man would have been massive and the build wouldn’t have ever finished on time. Things will always change when the engineers have to put together something that will be buildable and structurally sound for the conditions at the burn. The structure last year could not sustain the weight of a bunch of people being on it along with the weight of the man.

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  • Andrew Grant says:

    What’s the scale?

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  • Amandazon says:

    Amazing submissions! I can’t wait to see what develops! The first one has my vote! And I love the man on top of the DNA ❤️

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  • Love it! Wow. It gave me shivers! And the design is kind of reflected from my seats at the Man Pavilion last year! What a trip! I can’t wait to see it in person. Great job in your design, Kate Greenberg!

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  • LadyBee says:

    So many interesting proposals; must have been really hard to choose one. But I think they’ll all exist somewhere in the Multiverse, no?

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  • Not convinced. Doubtful after last year says:

    Can we climb the base?

    Last year was the worst man base ever.

    Please don’t give us a giant dumb base thing if we can’t interact with it, climb it, etc.

    Is this another huge disappointment?

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    • AnswerMan says:

      If you have to ask….

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    • You can never please everybody says:

      Last year’s Man was the first Man not designed by Larry, and I think the team who designed and created it did a stellar job considering the large responsibility on their shoulders.

      Sure, I wanted to climb and interact with the Man as well, but I also appreciated the different design approach and actually loved the idea that my expectations were not met. Expectations are boring – I loved how it was different. We don’t always have to follow the formula.

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  • Jimmy says:

    Please please please at least there is an access for folks to touch Man’s legs for external multiverse bless!

    Thank you!

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  • LaLa says:

    THIS feeells like hOMe ✨

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  • Rachel inTents Asks: RV There Yet? says:

    Absolutely amazing- all of the submissions. Excited for the cardinal Man-self. We like big base, big fire, big works, big play, big experience…from the star-dust to the multi-verse, here we come.

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  • Bryan says:

    Rad!. Excited. !
    Looks like plenty wood to burn like a Mofo!
    Please make sure we can play with it this year. Stairs up.
    No interaction availability last year left it feeling pretty meh..

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  • Chris says:

    Looks Awesome! I WILL see it in person this year!

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  • Kevin Shepherd says:

    Love them all & Kate builds good burnable projects – Spook #CampShitAintRight

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  • 20 year burner says:

    Another mini man…what happend to having a large man? Seems to have been emasculated over the last years…sad

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    • Sweet Alice says:

      Actually, the man started out small, continued to grow over many, many years until (in my humble opinion) it got too big!! I love that the size of the man has decreased. Much better. This year’s base looks amazing!! Thank you for choosing the most beautiful design. I can’t wait to see it!

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  • Darian says:

    Bravo Kate,
    A beautiful tribute to this years theme!

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  • G says:

    I do hope that they rig this huge structure to burn and collapse in less than say, an hour. Loooong Base burn times have some clear downsides to them.

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  • Mark says:

    It’s been mentioned, but it deserves to be mentioned again—
    Not being able to climb the man base and enjoy the view from up there sucks.
    As has also been mentioned, last year’s base was the worst ever as far as being people friendly. Interestingly, if you look at the original posted design, it shows people walking on the great spiral surrounding the man. What happened? Rumor has it that the org. does not want to spend a lot of money on the man base and therefore eliminated the costly (engineered) stairs.
    (Apologies to last year’s base crew who did a great job with the design they had to work with)
    So how is it that we have yet another non-interactive man base? Cost cutting? Lack of concern for the desires of BRC citizens who enjoy hanging out and socializing up on the man base?
    Please enlighten me before I scratch “Radical Inclusion” off of my 10 Principles list.

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    • Dante Barcello says:

      Radical insurance costs is the more likely culprit.

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      • Mark says:

        Purchasing a ticket waives one’s right to sue, otherwise there would be no climbable structures higher than eight feet and the burn would come to a grinding halt.

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    • You don’t get the Man you want.... says:

      If we are going to use the radical inclusion debate over last year’s man base, I’m sorry but I have to insert a huge *eyeroll* here. That’s a real stretch. In fact I can’t help but see how you have excluded something.

      Stairs are not accessible to everyone, you know! If you want stairs, and you want to talk radical inclusion, then I insist that you add that you want ramp access or a lift into your argument as well.

      Last year’s Man was radically inclusive in that it was physically accessed in the same way by every participant.

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  • Kostiantyn says:

    Awsome ideas! How can we take part in an idea contest as an architectural studio for 2021?

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  • Gaia says:

    So AMAZING! Looking forward to experiencing this

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  • Pachamama says:

    Beautiful art with great ideas that integrate so much consciousness
    except for the burning
    still so much entitlement
    So little awareness
    Poor Mother Earth is the only paying for this …
    wake up! You have the resources to make a change
    Be the change …

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    • SinglePly says:

      Yes Pachamama!

      Did You Know?

      About 80,000 participants, event employees and volunteers produced approximately 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions at Burning Man 2019. An average of 2,500 pounds per individual.

      By comparison, the entire state of Nevada (3 million people) produced approximately 1,300,000 tons within an equivalent time period. An average of 607 pounds per citizen.

      In other words 2019 Black Rock City produced the equivalent of 11% of Nevada’s greenhouse gas emissions.


      The Burning Man Project estimates 15,000 tons of trash was produced at the Black Rock City event in 2019. An average of 375 pounds per participants, employees and volunteers.

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  • mark hnasen says:

    “DADA is nada, but Deco echos on.”

    a graphitto seen on an entrance to a tunnel in
    San Francisco many years ago.
    said graphitto still holds up.

    noah count

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  • P. says:

    Good Luck with that Goat!

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  • Bunny says:

    Looks like an elephant’s vagina. We asked for Burning Woman and this is what they give us, a whale’s pussy? I’m all for including fatties at BM but this goes too far.

    Or maybe it symbolizes the giant pig anus of the patriarchy.

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  • Sunny says:

    I just hope it’s bigger! I kept loosing the man and couldn’t see him because he wasn’t big enough! The man gives me bearings when I’m lost!

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  • Gian-Paul Vidal says:

    I love the idea of using the concept of the bubble multiverse in the base. There are some crazy mind boggling theories about out the beginning of our own universe and the existence of others, that it’s great to see that touched upon here.

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