Have you ever heard of the Black Rock City? Now just try to find it on a world map – of course you will never find it, because it is only a temporary metropolis erected in the United States during a special event: Burning Man.
Burning Man is not a usual festival. It is an annual gathering that takes place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, spanning normally from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September. The event takes its name from its culmination, the symbolic ritual burning of a large wooden effigy („the Man“) that traditionally occurs on the Saturday evening of the event.
For a long time, Burning Man has been described as an experiment in community and art as well as a global cultural movement, based on 10 practical principles: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation, Immediacy (read more here).
At Burning Man, the community explores various forms of artistic self-expression, created in celebration for the pleasure of all participants, who are also called burners. Participation is a key precept for the community – selfless giving of one’s unique talents for the enjoyment of all is encouraged and actively reinforced. Some of these generous outpourings of creativity can include experimental and interactive sculpture, building, performance, and art cars among other media, often inspired by the yearly theme, chosen by organizers.
From summer solstice ritual to cultural icon
The story began in 1986, as Larry Harvey and his friend Jerry James knocked together an improvised wooden figure and drag it down to Baker beach in San Francisco on the Summer Solstice. They lighted it up and a curious crowd gathered to watch it burn. By 1988, Larry Harvey formally named the summer solstice ritual „Burning Man“. However, as a result of the dramatically increasing participant number and the burn ban of the police, Burning Man was moved to Black Rock Desert in Nevada and it has remained there since then.
Today, Burning Man has developed into an enormous event with over 60.000 participants. Burning Man 2017 takes place from August 27 to September 4, 2017, while “The Man” burns on September 02, 2017. This year, the art theme is Radical Ritual – Let’s see how much creativity the organizers and the burners can give!
Have a glimpse through this video from Burning Man 2016:
Title pic: By Brocken Inaglory – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7837591
Pic 1: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Lightmatter_burningman.jpg