Burning Man 2011
August 2011 - For the first time ever (and that's 25 years), tickets to Burning Man have sold out. Burning Man management states, "The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees the Black Rock Desert National Conservation Area, requires us to manage growth in line with the previous year's population in order to comply with our use permit." As the 2010 event drew a record 51,500 campers, speculation is that the number is close to 52,000, though no one at Burning Man management, nicknamed the Borg, has revealed the actual figure.
The event plan is a piece of art in itself, the open sided, curved layout acting not only as a fantastical campground but as an audience for the wild and imaginative artwork that will lie within the waiting, now-empty center section of the circle. As the theme for 2011 is "Rites of Passage" the streets of the mammoth Black Rock City will be aptly named as follows: Esplanade (this is standard yearly, and refers to the most central of the circular streets), Anniversary, Birthday, Coming Out, Divorce, Engagement, Funeral, Graduation, Hajj , Initiation, Journey, Kindergarten, and Liminal.
Since the theme this year involves an action, as "rite of passage" implies the leaving of one state for another, many of the planned art installations will beckon people to move through them in some fashion.
Art installations for 2011 include, among others:
Another Door Project by Calen Barca-Hall and Paul Hempstead of Santa Cruz, is a structure built of doors and powered by bicycle wheels, that creates the action of "one door closing when another one opens." Here's a video from their KickStart site to give you an idea of their interactive building (they are fully funded now, so this is not a plea for funds). People will walk through it as doors open and close in response to their own or others' actions.
Garden of Monkey Retrospectus by Iron Monkeys is "a 30' wide, 60' long Garden, [..] framed by 6 12' tall scrollwork steel columns. Inside the perimeter of the Garden sit sculptures from previous projects: a Tree Spire (2007), 'the hand' from In'cu-nab"u·lum (2009), and Zen Fire Gardens from The Crossroads (2010). "Festival attendees can relax on benches and contemplate the sculptures by day and be warmed by fiery features at night."
Bapteme du Feu by Anton Viditz-Ward of Telluride, CO, is an ambitious piece. It's described as "a twenty-foot wide spinning platform of steel." The artist says that burning wood will be dropped onto it, creating sparks and fiery pieces that will bounce across the surface. He states, "It symbolizes throwing one's self into the impossible in hopes of it being possible."
A Light Hazing by Matthew GT, Aaron Zeilegs, Josh Howell, Andy Heom, Quasam Baouni, Sam Alcorn, Ben Kalenik of Marina Del Rey, CA is a "photo-luminescent structure" colored by participants with UV light pens and also illuminated by stored solar energy re-emitted at night. The artists state, "Visitors are removed from the sensations of the outside world and immersed in a world of interactive color and texture."
This short list just touches the surface of the quantity of art that will be there. The art includes not only the fixed structures found in the playa but mobile art cars that many people create to bring with them (permits required from the Department of Mutant Vehicles), and of course, the festival attendees themselves, many of whom spend all year preparing costumes, planning theme camps and arranging the transportation of all of the above to the remote Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
Burning Man opens August 29th, 2011. No tickets will be available at the gate.
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