Whenever I mention that I would perhaps like to take my kids to Burning Man one day, I’m met with curious apprehension. Anyone who has not made the trek to Black Rock City has his or her pre-conceived notion of what goes on during that weeklong camping voyage, and for me that notion revolves mostly around the art cars, the lit-up sculptures, the massive installations, the imaginary worlds that emerge from the dust.
Burning Man is a self-made Disneyland, a wonderland where every guest has the chance to play Walt. This collective creation is the treasured aspect of Burning Man that attracts some of the world’s most fearless artists to bring their dream visions to life. And they know they’ve got plenty of queer Burners to appreciate and admire their inspired artwork.
As another one of these desert phenomena fades away into the Nevada sky, let’s look back at some of our favorite Burning Man installations that have cast a spell on all of us living in the default world.
Created by “tinkerers, gearheads and steam bohemians” based in Berkeley, Neverwas Haul is a a self-propelled 3-story Victorian House filled with rare collectibles it has encountered throughout its travels around the world (i.e., oddities of the Jules Verne era including a Camera Obscura).
Big Rig Jig
For 2007’s The Green Man-themed Burning Man, New York-based sculpture artist Mike Ross welded together two 18-wheel oil tankers into a 42-foot installation. Photo-darling Big Rig Jig was intended to address the effect of big oil on our environment.
Truth Is Beauty & Bliss Dance
In 2010, Bliss Dance, a 55-foot steel sculpture by Marco Cochrane, was the belle of the ball at Burning Man. Last year, it was her sister sculpture, Truth Is Beauty, that garnered the festival-goers’ attention. Bliss Dance, the Facebook-censored beacon of female empowerment, eventually settled in San Francisco, enjoying the sunsets on Treasure Island.
Black Rock Bijou
Move over Prada Marfa, there is another pop-up shop in the desert. Black Rock City’s favorite cinema house kept film fans close, sheltered and entertained from 2010 until 2013.
“Music… mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel.” After bumping loud at Burning Man 2011, this art car modeled after an old-school ghettoblaster created by Los Angeles artist Derek Wunder was sold on Craigslist for $13,500. The nostalgic new owner? An EDM music festival production company that brought it back to the playa this year.
Shipwreck / La Llorona
Burning Man is a land of pirates, so it’s surprising that it wasn’t until a very successful Kickstarter campaign that Black Rock City got it’s own ghost pirate ship.