2013 AfterBurn Report

In choosing “Cargo Cult” as the art theme for the 2013 Burning Man event, Larry Harvey made a definitive statement to the Burning Man community: we are the solution we’ve been looking for. The theme offered a rich tribute to Burning Man’s principles – particularly Radical Self-reliance, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility and Participation. In the spirit of Cargo Cult, the Man – symbol of our community and its principles – stood atop a massive 50-foot diameter wooden flying saucer in the vintage sci-fi style, as though it had descended from the heavens to save the human race.In 2013 the so-called “lottery” ticket process from 2012 was abandoned, and replaced with a hybrid of a Directed Group Sale (ensuring tickets got into the hands of key contributors) together with several first-come first-served open sales. And while demand outstripped the ticket supply for the third year in a row, this structure made for a much smoother ticket-buying experience overall.

With a record 69,613 people participating in Black Rock City, there was more of everything – art, theme camps, Mutant Vehicles, bikes, and endless opportunities to engage, connect and participate. And, critically, there were more vehicles traveling to and from the event.Traffic is the biggest threat to Burning Man’s long-term sustainability. To address the issue, the Burner Express shuttle bus system was created to reduce the number of vehicles traveling to and from Black Rock City. Over 2000 tickets were sold in its inaugural year, feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we intend to expand this offering in future years to more riders and more cities. Burner Express, together with carpooling, rideshare boards and shared shipping containers, will be critical to ensure the longevity of the Burning Man event.

On the playa, a number of significant pre-event rainstorms threw a wrench into everybody’s works, but luckily there was wonderful weather throughout the event week. Artists set yet another record with the number of art installations – over 380 incredible pieces graced the open playa, 66 of which were honoraria funded in part by $825,000 in art grants sourced from Burning Man ticket revenues. 24 of these projects were part of the Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE), designed and built by teams from Burning Man’s global Regional Network, placed around the Man in four clusters of six pieces each, and burned simultaneously on Thursday night of the event.

First-time temple builders Gregg Fleishman, Lightning Clearwater III, Melissa “Syn” Barron and crew created the Temple of Whollyness, a pyramid – 87′ X 87′ at its base and 64′ in height – constructed with interlocking geometric wood pieces, making it the first Burning Man temple constructed without the use of nails or other metal fasteners. In its center stood a black igneous basalt Inuksuk sculpture which was burned along with the temple on Sunday night of the event.

Notable art installations for 2013 included Bryan Tedrick’s “Coyote”, The Flaming Lotus Girls’ “Xylophage”, “Truth is Beauty” by Marco Cochrane, and “BELIEVE” by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomburg. First-time Burning Man artists also made a significant impact, including Mike Garlington with his hauntingly beautiful “Photo Chapel”, and the stunning “Church Trap” by Rebekah Waites.

We thank all the artists, theme camp organizers and Mutant Vehicle creators for the work that went into manifesting such an incredible expression of creativity for the citizens of Black Rock City. And we also thank the tireless members of the Department of Public Works, who toil for weeks before the gates open to establish the operational infrastructure of Black Rock City, and stay long after the last participant has left to ensure the playa is returned to its pristine state, allowing us to continue to proudly say that we are the largest Leave No Trace event in the world. Without their dedicated efforts, Burning Man as we know it simply couldn’t happen.

The Burning Man Regional Network became bigger, stronger and more active than ever, growing to 220 Regional Contacts serving communities that span 28 countries and five continents, while hosting 50 different official regional Burns. Over 30 new Regional Contacts were added in new locations across the world including Brazil, South Korea, Argentina, Austria, Russia, Latvia, Greece, Russia, and Yellowknife (Canada). International interest continues to grow as Burners from Dubai, Mexico, the Yucatan, Columbia, Chile, Turkey, Malaysia and Vietnam have reached out to express their interest in representing Burning Man in their home countries.And if it’s any indication of Burning Man’s growing global reach, we had over 132,000 visits to the live webcast on Saturday of the burn, and “SimulBurns” were celebrated in cities around the world.Burning Man continued its global expansion in 2013, more rapidly than ever before. As the non-profit Burning Man Project got its administrative foundation in place, it took on initiatives in each of its six program areas (art, civic involvement, culture, education, philosophical center and social enterprise). The 10 Principles blog series was launched, establishing a primary communication channel for Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center, and the groundwork was laid to bring Black Rock City LLC in as part of the non-profit entity by the end of 2013.

We encourage you to read each of the individual reports in this AfterBurn, for each paints a picture of the efforts that go into facilitating the creation not only of Black Rock City, but of Burning Man culture in the world. Whether it’s the Art Department, Community Services, Technology, Administration, Communications, DPW or Playa Safety, these teams put an incredible amount of work into making Burning Man happen – you might be surprised what you learn.

Thank YOU, Burners, for everything you do to support and co-create this incredible, ongoing experiment that is spreading around the world and making a global impact. We’re excited to see how it will play out as this community grows, because as the Cargo Cult story reminds us, we are the solution we’ve been looking for.