From spiritual enlightenment to experimental collaboration to sheer mind-tripping revelry, numerous motivations drive Burners to make the yearly pilgrimage to Black Rock City, NV. But one core principle unites them all: radical self-expression.
This is especially manifest in the wonderfully strange and whimsical art installations that populate the playa.
Although Burning Man was always predicated on art and participation, it wasn’t until 1995 that Larry Harvey began introducing yearly themes to give focus to the growing, and increasingly diverse community.
Since then, the scope of the art installations have only been limited by the creators’ imaginations (and budgets).
Nick-named the Belgian Waffle, much to the irritation of the Belgian team that constructed it, Uchronia was nearly 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 50 feet tall, dominating the Black Rock City skyline.
Pipes run throughout the metal tree and branches that release actual steam for a sauna-like effect, which was a solace against the cold Nevadan desert nights.
Since 2000, the Temples have been built and ceremoniously set aflame along with the Man, becoming an enduringly popular ritual at the festival. Mark Grieve’s interpretation in 2006, an elegant courtyard populated with massive stupas, took participants to an exotic land.
Created from two oil rigs, the interior compartment of Big Rig Jig housed silk plant life as a contemplation of the indelible yet often-forgot ties between the industrial and organic world.
Ten tons and 168 feet long, this kinetic sculpture has an audience-controlled joy stick, which swivels the head and operates the 41 flamethrowers placed along the spine.
A massive, interactive zoetrope, Homouroboros only comes to life when participants determine the source of power generation and the controls to its activation.
Created from over 6,000 color-dynamic lights arranged 8 feet high and 40 feet in diameter, Cubatron’s experience takes a decidedly psychedelic turn while under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances.
Encompassing almost 42,000 cubic feet, the open-air temple had four grand entrances that led to the central altar, which allowed energy to pass though, up, and out–a metaphor for the sense of lightness felt after the act of forgiveness and all negative emotions are finally released.
Stirring controversy for its ironic use of 900 gallons of jet fuel and 2,000 gallons of liquid propane to build the largest flame cannon in history, Crude Awakening transformed modern oil dependency into a violently primitive religion.
Constructed from a 100 foot hydraulic man-lift, the Flower serenaded and interacted with participants and performance artists as it roamed around the playa.
Meant to evoke the image of the DNA double helix, Kate Radenbush’s enormous 30-foot wide metal and red-mirror sculpture is a meditation on the nature of duality and the opposing forces within the very essence of the human condition.
Although reminiscent of the terrifying aliens of 50s sci-fi movies, I.T.’s creator only had benevolent intentions–the red spotlight eye merely tracks approaching visitors, unlike the vaporizing beams of the fictional space creatures, and an extension ladder allows participants to experience the sensation of being suspended 30 feet above the ground.
Nearly a quarter of a mile in length, this David Best sculpture consisted of a main 100 foot structure and a system of paths that connected to smaller temples along the cardinal points, not to mention bridges, fabricated gardens, and benches placed throughout for participants to reflect.