Strange things happen out on the Nevada playa during Burning Man. But as this new photo book from the organizers of the annual Labor Day weekend event shows, art is an integral part of the event. No, this isn’t the established art world’s art. It’s something a bit more organic, as this video link shows. Here’s what the San Francisco Chronicle found out talking to Jennifer Raiser, author and organizer of the event:
If you focus on the dance parties, embellished nudity, drugs and the burning of a wooden effigy at the end of the event, it’s easy to overlook that the festival is actually centered on art. A new coffee-table tome, “Burning Man: Art on Fire” (Race Point Publishing, 208 pages), by San Francisco’s Jennifer Raiser showcases ingenious, breathtaking and downright wacky installations by amateur and professional artists from around the globe […]
Q: Are most of the artists from California?
A: The majority are, because Burning Man is here. Zac Carroll’s “Front Porch,” on page 77, is a building from which he served moonshine and chocolate chip cookies. He’s a Mill Valley carpenter. Duane Flatmo’s “El Pulpo Mecanico” on page 79 shows his mechanical octopus. He’s from Humboldt County and uses scrap aluminum from thrift shops and the dump – muffin tins, colanders, pie pans, rusted garbage cans. Burning Man gives them a place for expression and exposure to a wider audience. And for Duane, repurposing is part of his art. If he had to buy materials, he’d have to get a sponsor.
Q: What do you want people to get out of the book?
A: A sense of their own creativity – that anyone can be an artist. And an appreciation for the gift artists bring when they create, which is under-recognized. Would van Gogh have been a Burner? Maybe. At the time, everyone thought he was crazy for not creating according to expected norms and listening to his own inner direction. Not all Burning Man art is great art, and that’s OK. It’s about creation, and if the end product is superlative, that’s wonderful. It’s the process of creation, collaboration and participation that really matters.