This year David is creating an even more complex and accomplished installation, drawing on VietNamese fishing traditions to build a stone grotto containing glass and ceramic elements as well as a lantern which will function as a beacon in keeping with our Floating World theme. He writes, “The experience of creating the Hanged One and the very positive response it garnered have led me to consider ways that I might be able to make my ventures into environmental sculpture a more significant part of my day to day and year to year existence. I’ve thought of ways that I might be able to establish myself as a sculptor working on large outdoor commissioned pieces for organizations or institutions interested in the composition of culturally significant materials as well as the overall creation of a piece that connects a particular location with the larger surrounding environment.” Burning Man is radically inclusive – we don’t ask for slides, an exhibition record or art degrees, and we provide a very free and very positive art-making environment, one in which people like David can explore their creativity in a supportive environment free of the restrictions of the conventional and competitive art world.
I do believe that Burning Man will have some kind of effect on how we think about art. I’m not suggesting that it’s the future of art but I do think something important is going on out in the desert. Nor am I saying that artists shouldn’t pursue gallery careers; we all have to make a living and that’s the system we have to work with. However, Burning Man does provide an alternative art making experience, a sort of bridge, if you will, between the completely community-based way of art-making I experienced in Africa and the self-oriented competitive world I experienced in New York. At least during one part of the year one can experience making art in this radically different way, which might change how one thinks about the process. We are already seeing artists who have worked in the desert return to their own communities and create art events in the Burning Man spirit. At the beginning of the twenty first century, people are hungry for authentic culture to which they feel connected, and what better way to connect than by creating it ourselves?