It’s a city in the desert, an emotive spiritual experience, a culture of possibility. It’s Burning Man 2017, a network of dreamers and doers. And it’s waiting for you in Black Rock Desert, Nevada at the end of the month. Baroque Access finds out everything you need to know
Burning Man 2017 invites participants to create interactive rites, ritual processions, elaborate images, shrines, icons, temples and visions. Like every year before this one, tens of thousands of people will gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis that is dedicated to everything spiritual and creative – community, art, self-expression and self-reliance.
Like any other city in the world, Black Rock City has an essential infrastructure and offers community services, such as city planning, safety, emergency and sanitary infrastructures, all of which are primarily volunteer-run.
Those who join Burning Man are not simply visitors to Black Rock City; they are active participants. They create this extraordinary city, the art, the interaction, the performance and ultimately the experience that we all call Burning Man. By participating, you give part of yourself to the larger community, a gift that is for everybody’s mutual benefit. This fantastic form of self-expression is, to many, a way of life.
The theme for 2017 is ‘In Search of the Sacred’, a spirit that will be released in the Black Rock Desert.
The theme uses the following quote by Johan Huizinga, a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history: “There is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the consecrated spot cannot be formally distinguished from the playground. The arena, the card table, the magic circle… all are in form and function playgrounds, ie forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.”
Sacred things appear to come from another place that is beyond the bounds of space and time. At Burning Man, the inhabitants will throw open a window on another world where sacred release powerful emotions: joy, awe, wonder, dread, even pure exaltation.
This year’s Burning Man will concentrate on the immediate experience of play, which breaks down the distinction that divides belief from make-believe. Whole-hearted and creative play induces self-surrender to experience that is beyond the scope of reasoned thought.
From the playful invitation to make angels in the dust that greets participants of Burning Man as they enter Black Rock City, to the Temple Burn that signals the festival’s end, Burning Man is full of rituals, rites that depict the desire to belong to a place, a time, to others, to something that is greater than ourselves, even in the midst of impermanence.