Da Vinci’s Workshop at the Burning Man Festival

3 min read

Every year come the end of summer, Black Rock City in Nevada comes alive as festival goers get together to create a vibrant if temporary community dedicated to art. Baroque Access finds out all the details


This year’s Burning Man takes place from 28 August to 5 September in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The unique festival, which was first held in 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco, is held annually from the last Sunday in August until Labor Day (5 September). This year, as in years past, the Burning Man community explores various forms of artistic expression which include experimental and interactive sculptures, building, performances, art cars and various other media inspired by an annual theme (the theme for 2106 is ‘Da Vinci’s Workshop’).


The festival begins with a symbolic ritual of burning a large wooden effigy (‘The Man’) on the Saturday evening preceding the event. Last year’s attendance was 70,000 people – and Burning Man 2016 is expected to be even more popular.


The 2016 theme, Da Vinci’s Workshop, is inspired by the Italian Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries that modernized Europe. The story focuses on the city of Florence and the festival will recreate and awaken the Renaissance in Black Rock City in its inimitable way.

Florentine artist Leonardo da Vinci was one of the era’s most definitive icons. He was inspired by the Roman architect Vitruvius and mapped the human body, limbs outstretched to span a universal circle. This year’s Burning Man will emulate the symbol of Da Vinci’s Vetruvian man. Festival participants will be invited to operate an elaborate system of gears and pulleys to slowly rotate Burning Man 360 degrees on a vertical plane much like rotating an enormous spinning wheel. Fusing art, science and technology like Da Vinci will be emulated here at Burning Man 2016. The Burning Man will be located in a public square, a piazza lined with workshops. Here, artists and patrons will come together, pool their resources and create a vibrant environment.


One of the highlights of Burning Man is the magnificent art installations, and the 2016 projects are going to be quite spectacular. They include an Adventure Vending Machine that dispenses adventures as well as Awakening, a large-scale interactive steel sculpture of a human head and two hands emerging from the ground. The head’s interior is a darkened room that visitors can enter; it serves as a theater for viewing the outside world, and a control room for moving the vast hands. Visitors use 3D glasses to make them feel as if they are immersed in the sculpture.


Another highlight of the festival is The Black Rock Lighthouse Service, an adult jungle gym comprising a cluster of lighthouses that range in height from under 2 meters to 20 meters. At night these structures come alive with light, fire and some other surprises.

Once you’ve had your fill of the excitement, make sure to enjoy a snack at Dust City Diner, where you step back in time to the 1940s for grilled cheese and coffee served by bee-hived waitresses. You’ll have to search for the diner, though, as it moves locations on a nightly basis.


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