I haven’t been to Burning Man since 2015. In 2016 I ended up giving my ticket away last second. In 2017 I meant to go but was too busy, in 2018 I said I’d go in 2019. In 2019 life bled into a global pandemic and now I find myself here, fingers crossed it’s the year I go again.
People who’ve never been, ask me many questions. Often surrounded by the misnomer of what the event really is. I’m not going to take this time to spew Burner values, but I’m going to hit on one of my biggest takeaways.
The desert was full of it. Giant structures, amazing sculptures, messages of creativity and love. I spent most of my time searching through a whiteout for the next constructed oasis. I stopped and looked, took pictures, often interacted, and breathed it all in (while covering my face with a bandana to fight the dust). You’d think each one had been there for several years, constructed over a lifetime. Not built in just a few days before my arrival. The amount of thought and creativity that went into each piece was mind-blowing. Each time I thought I found the last piece, I’d find one more. When I arrived home and looked at others’ pictures I had realized that I still hadn’t seen it all. Tricky little desert.
I was part of a very diverse camp. A professor, a marketing analyst, an engineer, a biology major, a school teacher, a florist, a ski instructor, and a few others shared my space. People I had known for a few years and valued their views on the world. Each one looked upon the art in awe just as I did. Each one understood its value, and how it affected them. Each one took a little bit of it mentally home with them.
I went back to the agency I was working at during that time and shared each piece I captured on my phone. Each time I followed it with “you should go next year!” and quickly heard “yeah, I should.”
I knew it was always an empty response. They had no intention of going as they were feeding off of what they thought it was, compared to what it truly was.
But then, I noticed something else as work went on. I would often travel with these same people to the most remote areas for work. Each time we’d explore in our downtime. Each time we spend those off-hours seeking art. No town was too big or too small, we always found it. We’d return to the office sharing our finds. At the same time, figuring out how to
steal incorporate it into our creative output. Art is designed to inspire. People say original thought is dead. If you can find an element to use in your next project to make it better, that’s just stealing life.
So, I guess what I’m saying here is that anything can be Burning Man if you want it to be. A little cafe with a piece of art on a wall. Graffiti on a building. A music video, a short film, an Instagram photo, your lunch. Find art in anything and everything. Take a little bit of it with you and use it to create something new. Because I assure you someone is going to look at your creation and take away a little bit for them too.