(art credit Burning Man)

Burning Man 2019

Metamorphosis

Aug 25th - Sept 2nd

by Kristine Bonner

Far out in the Nevada desert, Black Rock City 2019 has taken shape. Tens of thousands of people are assembling there for the annual Burning Man experience, braving heat, alkaline dust storms, and generally miserable conditions, in order to be part of what used to be a counter cultural experience, but which has become its own norm.

This year’s theme is Metamorphosis, an apt theme for an event that is often credited for changing people’s lives, and the way they live in the world.

“That’s why [Burning Man] has spread so contagiously, and caused people to take it back with them, and apply it to ordinary life: because it has engineered a change in who they really are.”
― Larry Harvey (co-founder of Burning Man, passed away April 28, 2018)

Burning Man itself is undergoing a metamorphosis. The rise of celebrity camps in the past years has challenged the event’s self-image. Elite camps have developed in the past few years offering ticket sales paired with lodgings, food and a fence to keep out the riff-raff.

Marion Goodell, Burning Man Project’s first Chief Executive Officer, published an article on the Burning Man site entitled, “Cultural Course Correcting: Black Rock City 2019”. She cites accounts of social media influencers using the Burning Man experience to promote their own popularity and associated product sales, and rumors of product launches at BM 2018. In case you didn’t know, even wearing a tshirt with a brand logo is not cool at the playa.

The event organizers have taken steps to shut down turn-key camps and to change the behavior of so-called influencers at the event. Camp Humano, which reportedly charged from $25,000 to $100,000 for a ticket to its all-inclusive camp, has been banned this year. Camps nearby had complained about their hidden entrance, causing all manner of wannabees to wander through nearby camps looking to get in; their leaking, and ultimately, exploding toilets; and the expansion of their trailers into neighboring camping areas and firelanes. There were also rumors of paid models available for companionship at the camp. Other similarly oriented camps have been given warnings.

Burning Man's 10 Principles
Burning Man's 10 Principles, art credit: Burning Man

But there’s no doubt the Instagram selfie crowd is coming again to the city this year. How will the city react? One comment on an article addressing that issue, “Oh, No! The Influencers Are Coming! But It’s What Happens if We Win That’s Interesting” has an interesting proposal. Blue Coyote suggests, “Bring on the adult diaper clad de-influencers and photo bomb as many Instaglam model shoots as possible. Give em a really dusty, sweaty hug too. They love that.” Looking forward to seeing some influencers photo-bombed this year…


Archaeopteryx, by Wevolve

Enough about the politics! What about the art? Archaeopteryx, by Wevolve, is a kinetic light sculpture. “Through collaboration, participants can mobilize her 20ft wingspan and activate beautiful illuminating light graphics.” This art emphasizes that the group must work together to accomplish its artistic metamorphosis, a thoughtful application of this year's theme.


Bee Divine Hive Temple, by Artist Collective: The Hive, Lead Artist: Elizabeth Huebner

Or jump into the sacred feminine – Bee Divine Hive Temple is a hectagon within a hectagon where Priestesses will use sacred theater to interact with Black Rock City citizens.


Awful's Gas and Snacks, by Matthew Gerring & Crank Factory

If that all just sounds too serious, find Awful’s Gas and Snack for some energy and refreshments. Conceived of as a museum piece of the year 2120, Awful’s comes equipped with an actual gas pump reprogrammed to explain gas culture to their visitors.

The Temple, the most compelling part of the event aside from the Man himself, is “The Temple of Direction” by Geordie Van Der Bosch this year. Less ornate than temples of previous years, it looks somewhat like a series of Japanese torii gates, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, reflecting “the passage of life.” The Temple at Burning Man becomes a sacred place; people leave all kinds of mementos of loved ones who have passed, or relationships ended. The Temple is burned a few days after the man, sending all the dusty memories up to the heavens and releasing the remaining assembled burners from their dramas and shared metamorphoses. It’s time to go home.


Temple of Direction, by Geordie Van Der Bosch

 

 

 

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