2012 Art Theme: Fertility 2.0

Screen shot from iBurn app by Burning Man Earth, Burning Man 2011
Screen shot from iBurn app by Burning Man Earth, Burning Man 2011

There is no enough in nature. It is one vast prodigality. It is a feast. There is no economy: it is all one immense extravagance. It is all giving, giving, giving: no saving, no penury; a golden shower of good things forever descending.
– Richard Jefferies

Black Rock City is a kind of Petri dish. Theme camps cling in fertile clusters to its latticework of streets, artworks tumble out of it, like pollen on the air. These nodes of interaction mutate, grow and reproduce their kind. Burning Man communities have now escaped this capsule world: our culture in a Petri dish has effloresced – it spreads across five continents. This year’s art theme contemplates the tendency of any being or living system to create abundant life.

As always, any work of art by anyone, regardless of our theme, is welcome at the Burning Man event. If you are planning to do fire art or wish to install a work of art on the open playa, please see our Art Guidelines for more information. To apply for a grant to fund the creation of artwork for Burning Man 2012, please see our art grant guidelines.

Pavilion design by Rod Garrett and Andrew Johnstone
Pavilion design by Rod Garrett and Andrew Johnstone

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.

– Dylan Thomas

This year the Man will stand astride a grand pavilion that is similar in shape and style to the Pantheon of ancient Rome. Arching portals and two mezzanines will wrap around an atrium; circles will encompass circles, telescoping to an open skylight several stories overhead. An interactive sculpture, sprouting from the courtyard of the chamber, will invite participants to clamber upward through the center of this mesmerizing space, much as bees might swarm about the pistil of a flower. To make this artwork more intensely interactive, we encourage all prospective climbers to express their own peculiar sense of inner beeing; come prepared to personate a bee, engage in both bee culture and couture. Worker bees are always welcome. If you wish to join the hive-mind and help organize this effort, please contact _____.

"Mama Nola", Voodoo doll and gallery, created by NOLA CORE Group, the Circle of Regional Effigies project from New Orleans, photo by Mark Melnick
“Mama Nola”, Voodoo doll and gallery, created by NOLA CORE Group, the Circle of Regional Effigies project from New Orleans, photo by Mark Melnick

Last year on Thursday night of our event, a giant ring of fire suddenly rose up around the Burning Man, as 22 large-scale art installations were simultaneously set alight. Called the Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE), this ambitious project was initiated by our regional communities. Each group created art that was reflective of its local culture — Maine produced a giant lobster lurking in a kelp-enshrouded lobster trap, Ireland offered up a dragon head with Celtic knot work carven in its base. This emergent ritual shows every sign of growing in 2012. 185 Regional Contacts currently stand at the center of 115 interlinked communities worldwide — together they comprise the Burning Man Regional Network. These groups are neither franchises nor fan clubs. They are self-generating social entities; bearers of a culture that transmits itself and multiplies, that’s capable of giving birth.

We are living in an age of mass production and consumption that is unsustainable. But culture, as a living system, has the power to create and recreate itself. It thrives as a result of numberless and unplanned interactions. All that’s really needed is a fitting social vessel to sustain it. The founders of our city now propose to seek out new environmental contexts where our ethos can take root. To this end, we have created the Burning Man Project, a non-profit entity whose mission is to husband and extend our type of culture wherever and however it may occur in the world. This integrated pattern of values, experience, and behavior is described by Burning Man’s Ten Principles. We encourage Burners and non-Burners alike to participate in this new movement. To learn more about the Burning Man Project and its sister organizations, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar and Burners Without Borders, please visit the district known as “Everywhere”, found on the Esplanade near Center Camp in Black Rock City.