The Art of Burning Man: an Incendiary Exhibition
San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, July 29 to August 29 1998
Curated and designed by Vicki Olds
Assistant Curator: LadyBee
Photo editors: Joegh Bullock and Marla Aufmuth
“This is art that provokes interaction. It is the fruit of self-expression elevated to a civic duty, a medium of gift exchange within a relentlessly social environment. Burning Man is a revival of art’s culture-bearing and connective function. Much of this work is designed to be touched, handled and played with in a public arena, deliberately blurring the distinction between audience and art form, spectator and participant. Many of these artists are “outsiders” to the world of private marketing and public funding. Their work cannot be understood as a commodity that’s separate from our community. This is art as myth, as ritual, as a kind of erotic property; a form of collective selfhood.”
~ Larry Harvey, opening statement
Our first Burning Man exhibit featured photographs, paintings, installations, video, and the Man itself. The indoor exhibit at the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery at 401 Van Ness Street included the following artists: Dana Albany, Jim Mason, Kal Spelletich, Larnie Fox, Dean Gustaffson, Pandorra Fioretti-Miller, Pepe Ozan, Terry Jacobsen, Al Honig, Chris Campbell, Michael Christian, Mr. Lucky, Michael Pedroni, Charles Spathe, Marian Goodell, Chris de Monterey, Aaron Ferucci, Eric Ebermann, and Hendrik Hackl.
Photographers included Steve Noryeko, Barb Traub, Miguel Edwards, Marla Aufmuth, Holly Kreuter, Travis Shinn, George Post, LadyBee aka Christine Kristen, Rick Egan, Karie Henderson, Willilam Binzen, Maggie Hallahan, Patrick Gavin Duffy, James Comstock, Stewart Harvey, Leon Nash, Gerry Gropp, Eric Slomanson, Will Roger and Aaron Young. We also used Exploration: City Site, the empty lot next to 155 Grove Street, to show the Man, and cleaned up the lot in the spirit of Leave No Trace, decorating the surrounding brick walls with mural paintings by KaosMiKitty, Jeogh Bullock, LadyBee, Jason Johnston, Dean Gustaffson, Gavin Wood, Ray Stevens, Chris Radcliff and Ricard Rivera, and Marion Joel Torrez. Elise Fried’s Buddha Head from 1996 was suspended from 155 Grove Street, and the Burning Man was erected for two weeks and then replaced by the original 6′ Man built by Jerry James in 1986. Dana Albany’s Primary Tentacles of the Nebulous Entity was shown in the 155 Grove Street windows along with Lexie Tillotson’s Pods and Dean Mermell’s video conpilation of 12 years of Burning Man. This part of the exhibit was organized by Vicki Olds.
The show was inaugurated by Mayor Willie Brown, who declared July 29 “No Spectators Day” in the city of San Francisco. Our opening night festivities featured art cars and performances by Sprocket Ensemble, Circus Baraka, AWD, and Lucid at 401 Van Ness, followed by a street procession led by Pepe Ozan’s opera crew in which a flaming vessel was carried by performers from the gallery to the Man on Grove Street. Theme camps, including FabricCamp, Egg Chair, Pinata, Catacylsmic Megashear Ranch, Steve Heck’s Piano Bar, and LadyBee’s Shrine of the Dessicated Rats lined Lech Walesa Alley, and nearby were Jim Mason’s Vegomatic, the Cyberbuss, and machines by Seemen.
Other events included a lecture presentation by Larry Harvey and Mark Van Proyen at the SF Public Library and a weekend of Burning Man film and video at the Roxie Theatre.