Friday, August 18, 2006

EncyclopediaJane: Burning Man

So exactly a week from today we’re heading to San Francisco meet up with a group going to Burning Man, an annual arts festival that takes place in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada.

They call it an intentional temporary community and an experiment in radical self-reliance, which means that for about a week hordes of people (as in 25,000+) trek into the desert, set up camp and construct elaborate installation pieces, perform plays, put on costumes, and, as far as I can tell, party until their minds are mush. Each year the event has a theme. This year it’s "Hope and Fear: The Future.” Burning Man Corporation says that they hope artists will “explore how we create futurity, manifested as an expression of the promise of our hopes, and the contractions of our fears.” Money is of no use here as there’s nothing to buy except coffee and ice (two essentials for desert living). All you can do is trade: a song; a drawing; a poem. (Perhaps sexual favors…I imagine.) You have to bring your own water, food, and shelter. I’ve never been but I’ve heard that it’s the ultimate form of self-expression and prime hunting ground for some of the best people watching on the planet. I was planning to blog using audioblogger but have just found out that that may not be possible. Why? No cell phone coverage. But not to worry: I'll take photos and keep notes.

So where is this Black Rock Desert and what is it like?

Well, it’s a desert. In the middle of nowhere. As in 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada. The closest towns are Empire and Gerlach.

Technically, Black Rock Desert is a completely flat prehistoric lakebed or a hardpan alkaline playa. It’s surrounded by the Pahute Peak Wilderness and the North Black Rock Range Wilderness to the west and North and South Jackson Mountains Wilderness areas to the east. Only drought-tolerant plants like sage and the ilk grow here and animals like deer, coyotes, snakes, scorpions, spiders and birds.

One area resident notes that "It's so flat that it causes optical illusions. Soon after sunrise on any warm day, the mirage begins. Objects more than 1/2 mile away slip below the horizon as the mirage bends your field of view away from the ground. Yet mountains 20-40 miles away may seem crystal clear. A car driving near the mirage terminator from you may at first appear as a low flying aircraft because you can see some refracted sky below it."

You can see some pictures of the desert here and read about the Art of Burning Man here.

11 Comments:

Blogger Karen said...

Sounds like a blast but I would be concernced with what kind of an impact that many people would have on the environment?

11:00 AM  
Blogger Minerva Jane said...

Well, part of the whole event is environmental sustainability. Leave no trace. Pack out your trash etc etc
But yes, I’m sure that there’s a big cleanup afterwards. I know there’s a corporation (hahah the man of Burning Man) that provides an infastructure...qq

11:09 AM  
Blogger thehealingroom said...

Hi Minerva,
Thats great that you are going. I have been too busy raising children to consider this venture...but I have heard about for years.
I will look forward to your take on it.
(I love my comforts of home, maybe I would go if I had an awesome moterhome.)

12:46 PM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I am so stoked you are going to this. the boyfriend and I talked about going this year back on NYeve...and we may still go next year. I have always been into this, and I bet you are going to have so much fun. I have several friends who have been (see my post about backstage at the circus) and I look forward to seeing your photos. What a hoot!

3:39 PM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I think one must have a certain kind of "Primal Pain" to go to this desolate place...That is not a criticism by any means...Just an observation. It looks so desolute...so empty...so dry...To Me! Obviously it is not a place I could go to...
BUT, I'm glad you can, because I look forward to all the pictures of the creative happenings that are supposed to take place here!

Just a question: What happens if you have forgotten one of the essentials or run out for some reason????

OY! I'm parched already! (lol)

9:06 PM  
Blogger AC said...

I am sooo jealous, I have wanted to go to Burning Man since I first heard about it...cannot remember when, pro only a few years ago. Have Fun!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Red said...

This sounds like an insane amount of fun! Can't wait to see your pics on your return.

But beware of the dingoes -- or the coyotes, or whatever haunts Nevada! (though I daresay the animals will probably relocate for a week seeing the sudden influx of two-legged mammals...)

12:06 PM  
Blogger City Slicker said...

Middle clas self mythologising if you ask me. But I am bitter. It is Sunday and I want ot to be Friday. take no notice. Enjoy Woodtstock c/o D&G shades.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Minerva Jane said...

I imagine that yes, any animal life will flee as the caravans start rolling in... I'm trying to keep an open mind. And of course I'll be taking notes and pix.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Wendy Ann Edwina D'Cunha e Pereira said...

Sounds like fun... Have a great time.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I look forward to hearing more about this!

11:23 PM  

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