Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dada, Mapplethorpe, Burning Man

Reading the latest issue of Art in America this afternoon. Several terrific articles. One about the new Dada exhibit showing at MOMA. Another about a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective that was a major hit in Cuba. And another about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Burning Man Festival in Nevada this August 28th-September 4th. The Dada show is especially apropos, given the times we are living in, with the crazy war in Iraq and all the terrorist hoo-haa going on. There are more than a few parallels between post-WWI Europe and now (entangling alliances, weapons of mass destruction, leaders who are incompetent or just plain evil). The Burning Man article gives a fascinating history of the festival, from the first Burning Man when an artist and a few of his friends and some strangers gathered on Baker Beach in San Francisco to watch an 8-foot Man made of lumber burn, to the mid-90's when Dead Heads joined and a group of punks threatened to shut the whole festival down, to the present day when over 38,000 people lived in the festival's temporary Black Rock City. It sounds like quite a surreal experience, with temples and camps, installations and be-ins; all the costumes and clothing (or lack of) and performance; not to mention the "gifting economy" (there are no businesses or things for sale, per se, at the festival, you need to bring everything you need to live, and share/exchange with others). I am thinking of asking Dean if he wants to go this year, and camp out, look at the art, be a part of it. I'd love to see what goes on, meet people, hang out, maybe even get some writing done, or a collaboration. Or would I just be being a fucking tourist? Hmmm . . . has anyone ever been before? Suggestions? Advice?


Radish King said...

There's nothing wrong with being a tourist. It's one of my favorite things to do. I have a good sized tent you can borrow.

Diane K. Martin said...

I've been twice. My husband and son went two more times, as well as the times with me. And then my son's been there two more times with his peers now that he doesn't hang with us anymore. The first time John and Nathaniel went, Nathaniel was 9. That would make it 1991. Nathaniel got to bike all over, play his saxophone on La Playa, and play with gunpowder (boy, was I thrilled to hear that). When we went, you could still sneak off and visit the hot springs (on private property) and drive through camp. The last time I went, we'd just got our puppy, so that was '95?

It's all well organized--the porta potties get cleaned out several times a day, there's professional firemen watching the burning. Nevertheless, I freak--people playing with fire, in those flimsy things you know will go up in just two seconds.

Now it's huge--and well, it's too much for this introvert. John is dying to go again. People Nathaniel's age laugh about the old naked guys. You are not supposed to be a tourist at Burning Man! Everyone is supposed to be a part of it. It's not hard to be a part of it; there's all kinds.

Ask me specifics and I'll try to answer. We know bunches of people who've gone.

Peter said...

Diane: Your relatively positive experience makes it seem more likely that Dean could possibly be convinced to go. We'll see!
Rebecca: Maybe you'd like to go with us!

Radish King said...

I'd love to go!

Nevada Girl said...

I think everybody should experience it at least once in their lifetime. If it wasn't for my parents, I'm not sure I would have gone. This will be my 5th year, my parents are talking about going one more time. They are 70 and 68 years young.
Burning Man has changed my life. I've learned to not sweat the small stuff, enjoy life, treat people how I want to be treated and just at peace. It renews all that and has made me a better person.

tracy_the_astonishing said...

Maybe you should try going to a smaller regional burn first. There are some on this map:

Burning Man Regionals

But not all (yet)