Noteworthy on the playa
This year's "Beyond Belief" theme has inspired more art installations at Burning Man than ever before. To see all the different projects that are happening, not to mention where you can can find them, be sure to check out the theme art map and pullout section of the What, Where, When guide. Now, in no particular order, here are a few that intrigue me:
No Diving by Linda Graveline, Los Angeles
It's about time there was a swimming pool out on the playa - and in such a pretty open pyramid, too! I especially enjoy sitting on the lawn at night, under the stars, watching folks as they swim and frolic in the water.
The Temple of Honor by David Best, Petaluma, California
Come on, now - could David really top last year's awe-inspiring Temple of Joy? Well, he has. Paper has replaced the dinosaur kit parts, and xerox has never looked so good. More is more.
The Temple of Gravity by Zachary Coffin, Atlanta, Georgia
The master of boulders returns with a scary exploration of weight, tension, and belief. Go ahead, hang around under those immense slabs of granite - you'll be fine! Responsive architecture, with a fiery pendulum at its heart. www.templeofgravity.com
Carousel Numinous by Jenny Byrd and Mosbaugh, San Francisco, California
Get dizzy as you spin through the world's religions in a devil mobile or an angel cart, whipped into spiritual ecstasy. It's a treat to see really good paintings out on the playa, and you'll see twelve here - four at the center of each of three carousels. Love those bunny-headed women, and the babes peeing on cupcakes. www.jennybirdart.com
Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping
This group interrupts their good work at the Disney Store in Times Square, assorted Wal-Marts, and Starbucks everywhere, to travel from their home - New York City - to the playa. They rock our community every evening at sunset, at the Man, with their message of anti-consumerism and peace. What happens when you drop a group of urban gospel singers led by a performance art preacher onto the playa for a week? Find out! Can you sing and shout "Stop shopping!!!"? www.revbilly.com
It's a little slice of Bombay in the Black Rock Desert. Watch out for their cute fuzzy neighbors in Bunnywood ... and ignore the gorgeous babes down the street in West Bollywood at your peril! These LA divas will bring us Glama Sutra on Thursday night on the Bollywood stage - trying desperately to top Wednesday night's show, Shiva Las Vegas! If you're lucky, you'll witness a costumed and choreographed Bollywood dance routine, spontaneously performed at surprise locations on the playa. "Om mane padme hum." www.dragondebris.com
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
This sea poem will be recited in full by the beloved Reverend Hal Robbins of San Francisco, as he rides in glory on the 16th century Spanish galleon La Contessa. Clashes with sea monsters, a boat swarming with zombies, and a dice game with Death are features of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem, a classic of English Romanticism written in 1796. As Hal recites, Gustave Dore's illustrations will be projected on La Contessa's sails to the accompaniment of the Xtra Action Marching Band. Performances daily across the playa. "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink."
Johnny on the Spot by Saul Melman and Ani Weinstein, Brooklyn, New York
Has our Beyond Belief theme summoned the spirit of Marcel Duchamp to the playa? Apparently so, as the world's largest ever replica of a Duchamp object rises in the Wholly Other. In 1917, Duchamp contributed a urinal signed "R. Mutt" to a New York art exhibit and the readymade art object was born. This 40' replica takes the form of religious architecture and contains, as an altar, a fountain. Sacred or profane? You decide. www.johnnyonthespot.ws
Satyrs' Bacchanal by the Mystic Krewe of Satyrs, New Orleans, Louisiana
One thing I can't live without is the annual Friday night Mardi Gras-style parade from the Satyrs' camp to the deep playa. There's frenzied dancing with the Xtra Action and the March Forth 3/4 Marching Bands, fabulous costumed creatures, flambeaux-bearers, and much raucous revelry, all led by the giant Golden Ram. Upon its midnight arrival at a secret location, the Ram will be sacrificed by entranced Maenads and all will drink its blood to feel the empowerment of Dionysus.
Pillar of Fire by Nate Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah
While imprisoned in the Mormon Tabernacle, this Utah artist made use of his time by inventing a marvelous machine that will create tight and beautiful fire vortexes up to 200' tall at various locations on the playa. But will he succeed in harnessing dust devils and infusing their energy with fire? www.fire-arts.com