Freelance Journalist and avid traveler, Meredith Price descibes the magic of the Burning Man Project, held yearly in the Nevada desert, with the help of some truly amazing photos.
Every year, over 40,000 people come together in a utopian experiment that challenges conformity and encourages radical self expression.
Held in Black Rock City, Nevada, the festival is named Burning Man after the ritualistic burning of a wooden effigy in the shape of a man.
Beyond being an incubator for personal growth, the festival is fertile ground for some of the most stunning artwork, grandiose costumes and outlandish art cars on earth.
The ephemeral existence of this unique conclave – it lasts for a mere seven days — makes it even more mind boggling.
These 25 photos capture a few of the most unforgettable structures, people and mutant vehicles I’ve seen out on the playa over the last eight years:
1. The Stunning Temple of Honor created by world-renowned sculptor, David Best, in 2003.
2. One participant goes all out for the ‘American Dream’ theme by turning her body into a canvas.
3. A magnificent unicorn struggles to emerge from the cracking dust-covered playa. An ancient lakebed, today it serves as a playground for imaginative art and communal experience.
4. A rotating installation that breathed four hot streams of fire into the air at night, piercing the dark sky with a terrestrial star.
5. With her stunning pair of horns and striking coloring, its easy to see why this female ram brings mythical goddesses to mind.
6. Enjoying a moment atop a beautiful white art installation constructed from carved metallic sheets. Check out the attention to detail!
7. Two little angels pose for photographs at center camp.
8. A floating astronaut hovers above the playa in honor of the American Dream theme in 2008. It may not be the surface of the moon but it certainly feels like another planet!
9. A congregation of Pan-like creatures on stilts frolicking in the late afternoon sun.
10. The climactic annual burning of ‘the man’, for which the festival takes its name, is always preceded by fire dancing and spectacular artifices. There have been many peaceful demonstrations to save the man over the years but so far to no avail.
11. This giant flower, made from a cherry picker, brought a dance party to the exodus lines to cheer people up as they left. The gauzy fabric gave it a delicate softness despite its massive size. It was truly a graceful piece of art.
12. Forget pretty in pink. Think hot in pink.
13. This gigantic, bowing statue made entirely of metal had a heart that literally ‘broke’ every night as liquid fire poured from its chest onto the ground right outside the center camp tent.
14. Waving to the mountains at the outer fence. Some people call it the last frontier.
15. A golf cart cum peacock makes its way slowly across the open playa.
16. Two stunning Japanese geishas take a break from serving tea to pose for the camera. They were a long, long way from home!
17. Day and night, this chariot kicked it along in grand style, ambling across the playa like something out of a futuristic spaghetti western.
18. A beautiful goddess mother made out of metal bowls celebrates the universe with outstretched arms, a fertile womb and dancing feet.
19. Over 200 feet long and 50 feet high, this awe-inspiring Conexus Cathedral, built in 2006, was a hallowed place that inspired both reflection and dancing.
20. Constructed in 2008, the Babylon Art Installation was a 100 foot tall steel tower with a photo booth on the ground that projected images taken during the day onto the tower by night. The structure is re-usable, recyclable and multi-purpose. Its creators even hauled it out to the playa using trucks fueled by 2nd generation vegetable oil!
21. Pondering an installation. Much of the art at burning man is interactive and encourages people to participate in its creation. One memorable piece of art even required that four people power up a set of monkeys spinning from tree to tree by riding bikes at its base.
22. Mutant Vehicles form a larger circle around the man in anticipation of the climactic annual burn.
23. Looking up from inside the magnificent Temple of Honor.
24. Life is Beautiful.
25. A giant wooden structure set up close to the peripheral fence that attracted participants from all corners of the festival and became a popular meeting place to watch the sun rise over the mountains.
This is merely the minuscule tip of an enormous iceberg. For more information about attending the event or participating as an artist or volunteer, visit www.burningman.com
Coming up….. The Burning Man Project: 20 Things I wish I’d known before stepping into the desert.