A congregation of nearly 80,000 people gather to celebrate art and the communal living experience every year at Burning Man. This eccentric art festival takes place in a windy, barren desert in Nevada. Participants come together to create Black Rock City, a place that exists only for the duration of the festival. Within the confines of Black Rock City, a unique blend of people come together to experience art installations, participate in theme-based camps and explore various forms of artistic self-expression.
The festival was held for the first time 33 years ago in 1986. It was organized by Larry Harvey and Jerry James who built the first “Man”. The event borrows its title from a trademark ceremony during the course of the festival. This is when the symbolic burning of a large wooden effigy (“The Man”) traditionally takes place. This year Burning Man will take place from August 25-September 2.
The Theme for Burning Man 2019
This year’s art theme is Metamorphoses. The theme aims to understand the ethos of transformation. What does it mean to change, grow and evolve? It is a celebration of change and an exploration of uncertainty. At Burning Man, participants will be urged to look at the transformation in their own future and what role agency plays in it. With a deep philosophical undertone, Burning Man wants attendees to explore new forms of alchemy that reply on the limitless power of the heart.
Art Installations to Experience
Most of the art installations at Burning Man invite participation through climbing, touch, a technological interface or motion. Some of the quirky, interesting art installations this year include:
This kinetic light sculpture is designed by Nicholas Debruyne and Wevolve Labs, designed to bring people together. It is based on the first bird known to evolve from the dinosaur. Participants will be able to mobilise her 16ft wingspan and activate beautiful light graphics.
Awful’s Gas and Snack
Labelled as the gateway to the Big Wild, this installation is one of the few remaining gasoline stations, painstakingly preserved since the mid-21st century. It is created by Matthew Gerring & Crank Factory.
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"Consider Your Impact" tells the stories that explore our community’s known and lesser-known effects on not just the Black Rock Desert itself, but the world around us as well. This goes well beyond picking up after yourself on playa to things like properly storing fuel, how to offset your carbon footprint, and sensitivities around dealing with local communities. Oh, and the pieces are written by @willchase. See the whole series in Burning Man Journal. | Photo by Johnathan Clark. Graphic by @tannerboeger | #burningman #blackrockcity #brc #thankslarry #leavenotrace #civicresponsibility #participation
Bee Divine Hive Temple
This project makes participants that identify as female create themselves as a Divine archetype and design a customized ritual of worship for that expression. The elaborate installation will take place as an interactive ritual theatre open for all citizens to engage with.
Bee or Not To Be
This huge installation is that of a bee designed to make participants more aware of the contribution the honey bee brings to the world’s food supply.
A cat temple, this installation will feature nine tall, elegant, mystical, glowing cat statues. These statues will represent the nine lives of the majestic creature. Additionally, the cats will be arranged in a circle and will shoot lasers from their eyes in a geometric array towards the central shrine of Pussiopolis, the sanctum of Holofelinity.
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Having a well-lit (and perhaps also fantastically decorated) bicycle in Black Rock City is critical for getting around, but definitely under no circumstances should you ever leave your bike behind upon striking your camp. If you pack it in, pack it out! For more info about bicycles in BRC: https://burningman.org/event/preparation/getting-around/bikes/ | Photo by Scott London | #burningman #blackrockcity #brc #thankslarry #leavenotrace
Camps You Can Be a Part Of
Joining a camp at Burning Man is the best way to experience the festival. The camps are extremely interactive and allow participants to be a part of an established group. You can choose a theme camp to be a part of based on your area of interest and something that piques your creativity. Here are some camps touted to be the best this year.
Big Imagination Foundation is a non-profit that believes in exploring new ideas through art. Its most recent project was the conversion of a Boeing 747 into a one-of-a-kind art experience. Their projects rely on community collaboration and big thinking. These factors make Big Imagination a great theme camp to visit at Burning Man.
Funky Town is a daytime camp with some of the best music at Burning Man. Its unique sound is one-of-a-kind and the camp has a reputation for a splendid Wednesday day-party. Gear up to hear the funkiest jams at Burning Man.
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You may have noticed we recently changed the name on our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) to "Burning Man Project." Burning Man Project is the nonprofit organization that produces the annual event in Black Rock City, and works year-round to bring Burning Man culture to the world. Burning Man Project brings the 10 Principles to life through collaborations with like-minded communities and organizations, and through nonprofit programs like Burners Without Borders and Fly Ranch. We don't do this alone. “Burning Man” is now a global, year-round culture and community that we are all a part of. Together, we are creating positive social change through a range of civic and community initiatives based on the 10 Principles. Think of it as a creative ecosystem of builders, makers, doers, and community leaders. While there are hundreds of groups and accounts managed by the global Burning Man community, Burning Man Project accounts reflect the official voice of the nonprofit organization while also sharing and elevating voices from across the globe. All of our voices make up Burning Man, and our collective topics, opinions, perspectives, and views are always evolving. Burning Man Project is one piece of a very large tapestry. Thank YOU for being a part of Burning Man. | Art is “SunScope (2018)” by @hybycozo | Photo by @andrewwyattphoto | #burningman #blackrockcity #brc #thankslarry #10principles
Skinny Kitty Tea House
A quiet break from loud crowds, the Skinny Kitty Tea House is ideal for some time away from the heat and the loud party vibe. The atmosphere at this camp is extremely laid-back. There is relaxing music and soft light. It’s the ideal place to kick back and recharge!
What to Eat
Since you’re going to be away for a few days while attending Burning Man in a hot desert, it’s always advisable to carry your own food. Pack non-perishable food items (just as you would while camping). Don’t bring anything that needs to be refrigerated. Some convenient food options include fresh fruit, protein bars, packaged snacks etc. Carry coolers if required.
The official Burning Man website also suggests communal kitchens. This works great if you’re travelling in a group where you can plan group meals. Find out more here.
What to Wear
Self-expression and authenticity are at the heart of Burning Man. This is why you can wear literally anything you want! There are no restrictions of any kind, you don’t need to follow the latest fashion trend or feel the need to fit in. Pick an outfit that best defines you. However, since you will be out in the desert for an extended period of time, carry:
- Sturdy boots to protect your feet
- Sunglasses to battle the harsh sun
- Scarves to block dust
- Jackets and sweaters for chilly nights
Attending Burning Man is a refreshing, educational experience that is nearly always transformational. If you’ve been a part of the festival in the past, share your experience in the comments below!
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