The inclusive festival, which has the slogan ‘no spectators, only participants’, is described by the organisers as ‘an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance’. This celebration of impromptu experimental art, music and performance takes place every year in the Nevada Desert during the last week of August. The main festival ground is known as Black Rock City, a temporary makeshift desert town which is located 90 miles outside Reno on the dried, prehistoric bed-lake of Lake Lahonton, and only exists for the duration of the festival before it is disassembled, but during the festival it qualifies as Nevada’s fourth largest city.
Defiantly non-commercial and not-for-profit, The Burning Man Festival has grown in stature over the years and features arts and crafts, themed camps, music and guerilla street theatre. The event originated organically in 1986, when Larry Harvey and a group of friends built a three meter high wooden effigy and set it on fire on a beach in San Francisco. The regular tradition began to attract visitors, and when it was banned by local authorities, it relocated to the desert, where it joined forces with other small scale festivals.
The burning of the now 50 foot Man is the traditional closing ritual of the eight-day event, where participation and unconventionality is actively encouraged. The Festival is an anarchic celebration of finding new ways of expression in a dusty experimental metropolis, and is also a rites-of-passage pilgrimage for artists to express themselves outside of the hermetically sealed confines, and economic pressures of the art world.
By Erdinch Yigitce