Burning Man or )'( is an annual event held in the Black Rock Desert, in Northern Nevada. The event starts on the Monday before, and ends on the day of, the American Labor Day holiday. It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on Saturday evening.
The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. Organizers have noted, “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.”
The event is organized by Black Rock City, LLC. In 2008, 49,599 people participated in The Burning Man Project.
The annual event now known as Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986 when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned an 8-foot (2.4-meter) wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. Harvey has described his inspiration for burning these effigy figures as a spontaneous act of radical self-expression.
Art on the playa is assisted by the Artery, which helps artists place their art in the desert and ensures lighting (to prevent accidental collisions), burn-platform (to protect the integrity of the dry lake bed), and fire-safety requirements are met.
Since 1995, a different theme has been created, ostensibly by Larry Harvey, for each year’s event. For 2006 the theme was Hope and Fear and for 2007 it was The Green Man.It determines to some extent the design of the Man (although his design and construction, while evolutionary, has remained relatively unchanged) and especially the structure on which he stands (an Observatory for “Vault of Heaven,” a Lighthouse for “The Floating World”). These themes also greatly affect the designs participants employ in their artworks, costumes, camps and vehicles.
Burning Man primarily features outsider art and visionary art, though a great variety of art forms are presented during the event.
Adjacent to the city, the dry lake bed of Lake Lahontan serves as a tabula rasa for hundreds of isolated artworks, ranging from small to very large-scale art installations, often sculptures with kinetic, electronic, and fire elements.
From www.burningman.com : their Ten Principles
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”