Burning Man

birdofparadise

My love affair with Burning Man began in 2003. This was a pivotal time in my life, as I was in the midst of a transition from my career as a freelance journalist into… something else. Amidst the malaise of my late 20s, Burning Man helped shape that outcome by giving me the exposure to radical community and the platform to launch my larger interconnected passions for art, building, planning, and execution onto a public stage. After doing my time organizing theme camps and building small art cars, I teamed up with Shrine in 2007 for my first installation, Tasseograph: Trash Tea Temple. Bolstered by the success of that piece and with the attention of the participants and the Burning Man Organization upon us, we accepted the prestigious commission for the 2008 Temple Project, which we named Basura Sagrada (“Sacred Trash”). It took almost a year, completely consumed countless days and hundreds of people, thousands of hours and dollars and tears. We grew old, died, and were born again during the life span of that project. And then it was over. Burned to the ground, reduced to a pile of very meaningful ashes. After that was complete, there was nowhere left to go. I could go no bigger. And so, after a couple years had passed, I returned to the playa with my latest project: DustWorks. DustWorks sprang not from any creative passion tied to artistic fulfillment, but from my parallel career building festival infrastructure. Burning Man seemed like the perfect place to explore ways of making festival infrastructure sustainable. This effort continues to this day, and DustWorks remains a going concern.

Burning Man has given me many things, and it has taken almost as much away from me. We have a complex relationship. While I do not let it or my work there define me, Burning Man was there, and will likely continue to be there — even if I no longer attend the event — as I became and become the man I am today. At the very least, it has never been boring.

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