Burning Man is a community of anti-establishment outsiders and lovers of all things rebellious. Naturally, the Burner community draws many artists with the same “outsider” mentality. This community of revolutionary thinking and desire for change brings about some amazing art that is shocking to some people. In 2013, Rebekah Waites made waves when she constructed her piece “Church Trap” out in the desert.
The piece was a giant wooden church tilted open with a wooden beam, much like a traditional animal trap. According to the artist, the piece was “about dogma as a trap” and encouraged people to question authority. Visitors could enter the trap, sit in the pews, and interact with the LED light display inside. To top it all off, “Church Trap” was burned to the ground at the end of the week-long event.
One of the ten principles of Burning Man is “radical inclusion.” In fact, it’s the first principle listed on their official website. According to founder Larry Harvey, “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man.” Technically, any adult can join the community regardless of race, background, and gender identity. This sounds like a perfect utopia, but there are some flaws beneath the surface.
Despite being open to all, it’s not exactly affordable. Attending Burning Man costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Plus, most Burning Man attendees are white, with only 1% identifying as Black, 6% identifying as Latino, and 6% as Asian. On the other hand, many queer folks have found a welcoming community at Burning Man. Everyone’s experience is unique, but there’s definitely room for growth in terms of diversity.
Entertainment for All
Burning Man doesn’t like to call itself a music festival, but there is plenty of live music and dancing throughout the course of the event. The nightlife at Burning Man is absolutely buzzing, with artsy dance clubs and live concerts featuring famous musicians. Big names such as Skrillex, Diplo, and Major Lazer have performed over the years.
Diddy even performed on a Burning Man stage one year. The awesome thing about all this live music is that it’s totally free. Although you pay for an admission ticket, you don’t pay for anything else once you enter the Playa. Imagine seeing a free Skrillex or Diddy concert with the clear desert stars shining down on you. Sounds like a dream.
A Stunning Landscape
Every year, Burning Man pops up in the middle of the Nevada desert as a vibrant, lively community. A key part of the annual Burning Man community is the plethora of stunning art installations. It’s an amazing feat for artists to plan, transport, and install their larger-than-life installations. Despite all of the struggles and hours of hard work, the final result is always stunning.
Burning Man follows a “leave no trace” philosophy, so most artists choose to use natural and recycled materials when constructing their installations. For example, these giant figures create a striking image against the desolate desert background. They’re made with glass mosaic tile and shiny metal material, which makes them stand out all the more against the dry hills and brown dirt.
Burning Man's Humble Origins
Today, we know Burning Man as an event that draws tens of thousands of people out to the remote Black Rock Desert every year. However, Burning Man had much more humble beginnings before it became synonymous with the Nevada desert. The first few Burning Man events were held at San Francisco’s Baker Beach before authorities caught on and banned the community in 1990.
The ban was mainly due to wildfire hazards, which is understandable considering that the event was centered around burning “The Man” statue. Founders Jerry James and Larry Harvey then moved Burning Man and their community to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Every year, Burning Man gathers in a semi-circular settlement that is so large that it can be seen from high above in the sky.