(Just a few days away now….getting very excited…cd)
Monday, Aug. 22, 2005
In recent years, an ever-growing chorus of festivalgoers has complained about the sanitization of music and arts fests, and not without reason. At this year’s Glastonbury music festival in the U.K., for example, well-heeled attendees paid more than $10,000 each to stay in luxury tented accommodation—a far cry from the event’s countercultural origins. And it seems that no large gathering—from Japan’s Summer Sonic to Scotland’s T in the Park—is without its gaudy glut of sponsors’ logos. But for those who rail against the commodification of culture, there is always Burning Man (burningman.com). Now in its 19th year, this arts festival in the Nevada desert remains inexplicably free of meddling from high rollers and brand managers. At its heart is Black Rock City, a temporary community of some 30,000 outlandishly dressed souls who make camp for six days (Aug. 29-Sept. 5 this year) with the aim of expressing themselves through music, exhibitions and performances.
Regulars know to expect the unexpected, from startlingly decorated floats to interactive art installations to spontaneous dance parties. In an oddly beautiful gesture, much of the art created for the event is destroyed during the festival’s climax: the ritualistic incineration of the Burning Man, the 12-m effigy that dominates the camp until the festival’s last night. Naturally, there’s a great sponsorship opportunity here for kerosene manufacturers—but anyone in a suit and tie stands little chance of making it past the gate.
Further Resources: Bring the right stuff movies, blogs, and Burning man links