This is a series about Decommodification, one of Burning Man’s 10 Principles and a crucial issue in our culture. Black Rock City is decommodified zone, a space free from advertising and transactional relationships, not beholden to corporate influence. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in people posting photos from BRC on Instagram tagging the brands they’re wearing and promoting products. We hope this series will help shed some light on the many angles, interpretations, and opinions on a topic that is central to our event and our global community.

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  • To Reconcile Art and Commerce, Take Them Less Seriously

    My first post in this series explored the way in which Decommodified art can do things that commodified art can’t. That it’s not just that one’s “free” and one “costs money” — the act of decommodifying something create a difference in kind as well as accessibility.  The second post was a closer look at why …Read More

Further Writings

  • Burning Man, High Fashion, and Commodification

    Earlier this week, I was made aware of a “hip new clothing line” that debuted at this year’s Paris Fashion Week. The collection features representations of at least 26 Black Rock City works of art and six mutant vehicles. Several pieces also include derivatives of the Burning Man symbol. As I clicked through the photos, …Read More
  • The Revelation Will Not Be Commodified

    There’s a growing sense of outrage in the Burning Man community that our culture is being commodified. I think it’s great for us to be having these conversations, and I’m a little alarmed at the tone of some participants, which shows a lack of civility that seems misaligned with the broader spirit of the Principles. …Read More
  • I Am Not a Brand, Am I?

    So, after my post about the Fyre Festival, my friend Robin Lehto — who is very active in San Francisco’s underground art scenes but not a Burner — responded this way on Facebook: “Image uber alles.” Slow clap. But a MILLION eyerolls at people with personal brands being restricted at Burning Man. My dear, sweet friend, with …Read More
  • Decommodification Reminder

    I’ve seen some online conversations dismissing the importance of the Decommodification Principle.   “Who cares if people do photo shoots of their products at Burning Man?” “Burning Man is changing, you can’t fight the tide.”   Wha?? You most certainly can! You build a sea-wall to protect our sacred city up on the cliffs from falling …Read More
  • Center Camp Café oculus (photo by Brad Templeton)

    Commerce & Community: Distilling philosophy from a cup of coffee …

    [This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.] Sometimes the exception to a rule can deepen understanding of a principle. For example, some critics of Burning Man …Read More