BURNING MAN 1997

HAPPENING

The definition of anarchy is, “a state of society without government or law”. To some, the idea of anarchy is a frighting chaotic existence where order and normalcy doesn’t have a place, but for the fifteen-thousand who gathered in a Nevada desert for a week, anarchy became a utopian society of boundless possibilities. Anarchy became a process of communication and realization – we all realized that anarchy is the root of creation.


The Burning Man is a festival that began ten years ago on a beach in San Francisco – then a very small gathering. I’ve been told the idea of burning a ‘man’ represents burning the ego of oneself or the ego of the human race, but it’s free for everyone to have their own interpretations. On the last day of the festival, a 50 foot wooden ‘man’ is burned in an overwhelming display of pyrotechnics.

The festival lasts about a week, but for many it lasts for more than a month – with weeks of preparation and construction of installations to burn. Some of my favorite installations where; The Temple of Ishtar – a 80 foot medieval sculpture, a spiral ‘ammonite’ shaped tent you can walk through until it becomes so small, you have to crawl to reach the end, and a do-decahedron ball with a racing chair suspended in the center, surrounded by speakers – you sit in the chair and people push you around.

Bizarre and unlikely vehicles are a mainstay of the festival. Some of my favorites from last year returned such as; the motorized couch with matching remote control coffee table, the shark car, and rocket powered go-cart. Some of the new vehicles included; a three row motorized couch with sound system, a motorized Jesus cross – complete with a naked man, a motor bike with a horse saddle and oblong front wheel to simulate a horse gallop (you had to be there), etc.

Music is a major part on the festival, with live acts, deejays, and extemporaneous performances.
The dominating music this year was Goa Trance, which took the main stage after the man was burned with Goa Gill and the CCC deejays from San Francisco.

The pinnacle of my Burningman experience was on the final night when everything was burning and chaos was predominant. Bodies moved through the fire lit sky as far as the eye could see. The ambient sounds where a wash of sound systems, bands, crackling of fire, and the people screaming “BURN IT”.

The Burning Man Project -Official Site
http://www.burningman.com

Text&Photos: Ammon Haggerty from Qaswa

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