Did you miss the Burn this year? Here’s an intimate look into the art, camps, performances, and burners of Burning Man, from the eyes of photographer Chase Stanley.
It was the second day of the event and I was riding atop our camps art car, the Electronicopter. I was talking with friends and having a few drinks when I turned around and saw the sun JUST starting to fall behind the horizon. The glow created by the sun during this time of day is impossible to capture in a camera, but that would not stop me from trying. Away I snapped as the distant art pieces and the man were being enveloped by the warm light. Truly a beautiful sight!
Art Car: Big Red
Captain/Visionary: Kirk Strawn
A massive version of a VW Bug. I first happened upon this art car during a huge dust storm, and all I could think about while seeing its vague silhouette in the distance was Mad Max. It definitely has that vibe and aesthetic. As the creators themselves state, “You can’t be blue when you’re around Big Red. After all, he’s the biggest little Bug you ever saw.”
Art Piece: R-Evolution
Artist: Marco Cochrane
Over the past three years artist Marco Cochrane has taken on an enormous undertaking in The Bliss Project. This project is a series of three massively scaled sculptures that are intended to demand a change in perspective and bring about social change in the way we view women. We are meant to see past their sexuality and to see their real beauty on a human level. Marco hopes to encourage change and stop violence against women with these pieces.
It was no surprise that this year’s sculpture, R-Evolution, was just as breathtaking as years past. The first time I saw her silhouette at dusk I was instantly reminded of where I am, home. Her giant stance against the horizon reminds me of the amount of time, effort, and creativity fellow burners put into projects here on the playa year after year. She serves as inspiration to us all to keep giving and keep creating.
Art Piece: Medusa Madness
Artist: Kevin Clark
Medusa Madness. Dare to stare lest you be turned to stone. This art piece was a huge undertaking and one that was not finished or working until the very last day of the event. This however did not stop them from throwing a massive party when it was finished… and it was epic. Loads of spent burners gathered at Medusa to dance their last dance of the event, as it shot fire in all directions while a DJ spun some amazing deep house from within its gaze. It was a good way to end the burn!
The main method of transportation on the Playa.
Art Piece: Temple of Promise
Artist: Dreamers Guild
The temple, like the man himself, is the only other art piece that will be a part of Burning Man each year. It is erected as a place where everyone is invited to come and leave mementos or write on the walls of the temple themselves about issues that are troubling them in their lives. It is a very emotional place and you can feel that energy the moment you enter. Burners weep in corners as they pour out their soul and get these repressed worries off their chest. It is sometimes difficult to endure the mindset in which the temple puts you, but whilst inside it is very obvious how powerful and spiritual this place is to a lot of people. On the last night of the event the the temple is burned and it’s meant to symbolize the release of all these troubles, worries, and fears left within its walls. The burning of the temple is the only burn in which everyone is completely silent to show respect to this grand release of emotions.
Art Piece: Dream
Artist: Laura Kimpton & Jeff Schomberg
Laura Kimpton’s pieces have become a bit of a staple at Burning Man over the past few years. Giant letters jutting up from the playa spelling out different words that evoke a range of meanings and emotions. They serve as a great landmark for burners to meet up or on which to climb and get a good view of the city. This year the Letters spelt out the words Dream, Live, Be, and OK. I see it as a message to live your dreams and to be ok with the changes it brings about.
Burner: Nic Hall
Year: 1st (Birgin)
“It is my first night out of my first year. I have been trying to make it out to the burn for years. Things finally fell into place and in this moment all I can think is YES, I FINALLY FUCKING MADE IT!!”
Nic is located in the middle of The Serpent Mother installation created by the Flaming Lotus Girls.
Theme Camp: Distrikt
Ahh the Distrikt… I don’t know what to say about this place aside from the fact that they throw some of the best and wildest parties on the planet. They are the most well known and infamous dayclub on the playa, superstar DJ’s constantly grace their decks. They also most likely host the largest bar at the event, serving ice cold smoothie jungle juice cocktails… a Godsend on a hot day. I once spoke with one of the higher ups at the camp and inquired about the costs involved with gifting amount of alcohol they do. Let’s just say it’s an insane figure all in the name of giving back to the community! Bless these guys.
As I was cycling back to camp after a long night of house music, fire spinners, sparkle ponies, lasers, and neon lights I came upon a grouping of people around the base of R-Evolution. I pulled over to see what was going on and came across a performance that was taking place. A group of women were dancing in fluid motion as the sun was about to crest the hills to the east. I jumped off my bike and proceeded to watch one of the most beautiful and powerful acts of dance and theatrics I have seen on the Playa. I’m not sure exactly what it all meant but it seemed to empower the women performers and the female prowess all while welcoming in the change of the new dawn.
This is the kind of random events you can happen upon at any point in time during Burning Man. This is what I absolutely adore about the event. One moment you are dancing to the sounds of Seth Troxler at a massive sound stage and the next you are watching delicate theater at the base of a monumental art piece as the sun rises in the distance. It is truly a magical place.
Some seriously incredible wardrobes.
Art Piece: El Pulpo Mechanico
Artist: Duane Flatmo & Jerry Kunkel
El Pulpo Mechanico is a marvel of both art and technology with a little bit of wizardry thrown in the mix. Artists Duane Flatmo and Jerry Kunkel are responsible for this Mutant Vehicle’s creation. Without the use of any computers or hydraulics this duo was able to make an articulating, flame shooting, burner jaw dropping, moving art piece. One word sums it up, incredible. El Pulpo’s flames at any given time on any given night can be seen from across the playa and serves as a real landmark for everyone attending the event. If you’re burning off 200 gallons of propane a night I guess you better be seen!
Art Piece: Mazu Goddess of the Sea
Artist: The Department of Public Arts
Mazu Goddess of the Sea was a transporting experience for me. Transporting in the sense that when I first walked inside this structure I felt as if I was far, far away from the dry desert. I could hear the water lapping below my feet and I could feel the sea breeze brushing across my face. I was in a past time in a distant land. As I walked up the dock into this sacred place little did I know I was about to have my future determined for me by the gods of fate. Ask a question and roll the Moon Rocks I was told. I did not hesitate I did as directed, “Will I ever make it out of this strange distant land?” I asked. I rolled the rocks and eagerly awaited the answer of the gods, I watched as they slowly tumbled across the floor. Yes…. I had been told yes, my fate was not to stay in this place but to move on. So I did, I walked back down the dock and as I did the sea faded away, the reality of ancient gods dwindled, and I remembered where I was and thought to myself “Gods, Distant lands? Wow, I must be on a good one………. Let’s go find some music and party!”
Art Car: The Mayan Warrior
Chief Designer: Carlos Cole
The Mayan Warrior is one of the Mutant Vehicles that people are always looking out for. It is an elusive beast, as it is constantly moving around deep playa, but when you happen to be lucky enough to stumble upon it you are guaranteed to have the time of your life dancing to some of the biggest names in electronic music. I’m not sure who was on the decks this particular night… I can say however that I was unable to stop moving. There is something about dancing in the middle of the desert in a sea of lights that can just never be replicated in the default world we call home.
Burner: Francesca Gaskin
“I’m just looking for Betsy or a unicorn to get me through this dust mate… Can’t find either.”
This year’s burn was one of the most dusty and windy I can recall in 9 years attending. This image was taken during a “white out” that lasted almost an entire day. There were times the dust was so thick you could nor see your hand stretched out in front of you.
Art Piece: Totem of Confessions
Artist: Micheal Garlington
The dark and gothic Totem of Confessions is a site to behold set against the pale backdrop of the playa. This structure was designed by Michael Garlington as a place where burners could come clean and get things that have haunted them off their chests. A safe place where no secret was to taboo to discuss. As people waited in line to enter into the confessional room within the chapel I was completely enthralled with the range of emotions I perceived on the faces of those leaving. Everything from joy and laughter to pain and sorrow was chiseled into their expressions. Who knows what deep dark secrets those walls were partial to!
What can I say about the burning of the man? Well it is the biggest night of the Burn as dictated by the festival’s title. All burners know the feeling of seeing the city and large scale art being built around them throughout the week. At the start of the festival on Monday there is a much more chilled out vibe. People have spent all day building their theme camps, mutant vehicles or art pieces; they are tired. However, as the week progresses and more and more of the city is completed, chilled out gradually turns to the rager of the century. Mindsets change from work mode to get naked and party mode. The burning of the man is the pinnacle of this transition. So in other words all 70,000 burners lose their fucking minds at once. Let’s just call it about as good of a time as one can possibly have, anywhere, ever.
Photography and Writing: Chase Stanley