1997 Art Theme: Mysteria: The Secret Rites of Burning Man

by Crimson Rose

“When people can be made to laugh they surrender their reservations. With nothing to lose they suspend disbelief and become more available to experience. The primal and surreal thrive in this environment. Under cover of laughter profoundly irrational truth can sneak in.”

— Larry Harvey

What is Burning Man? Burning Man is an avant garde arts festival staged annually in Nevada’s high desert during the Labor Day weekend. Now in its 12th Year, some 10,000 participants will gather to take part in a radically participatory experiment in temporary community. Where ideology is satirized, farce is honored and immediate experience is valued above a vacation trinket. The celebration culminates in the ritual destruction of the Burning Man — a four-story-tall wooden and neon sculpture fashioned in the shape of a human being.

MYSTERIA: The Secret Rites of Burning Man is presented at the Somar Cultural Center as an evening of interactive theater, multi-media arts and cultural hi-jinx. This year’s benefit show will feature two principle cults: The Court of Cruel Mistress Gaia, where the potent powers in the court will include the Top Banana, Merischino Cherry, Hot Tomato, Salted Cashew and his crony the Beer Nut, among other fruits and vegetables. And a pageant: The Burning Man Mythos, the ultimate fertility dance between the Warrior Sperm and the Vestal Virgin Barbies.

Somar’s gallery, theater and warehouse will be combined to house dozens of Bay Area artists who have created their own interactive rites of passage that reveal a visionary secret. Some of those will include: Secret Rites of Barbie, the Revirginator, Sacred Order of the Small Appliance, Temple of Idle Worship, Esoteric Order of the Yummy Yoni, Temple of the Sacred Lollies, Mystik Krewe Satyrs, Jonestown Reunion, Cult of the Erotic, Society of Super Heroes, the Aura of Laura and Burning Man himself — all 40 ft. illuminated in neon — will be flown from the rafters above the “mysteria of the absurd.”