While the official theme of the 2007 Burning Man event was The Green Man, in many ways it could be described as the Extreme Man. And arguably, nowhere else within the Burning Man organization was it felt more than within the Art Department.
2007’s art grant program was the largest to date for Burning Man. With over 280 grant proposals submitted, the Green Man theme was widely received and embraced. While the number of proposals was greatly increased, the number of grants awarded for playa art projects remained close to the number awarded in 2006, for a total of 30. Though the playa art installations remained constant, the number of art installations surrounding and underneath the Man rose from ten in 2006 to 28 in 2007. The total amount awarded in art grants rose to approximately $500,000.
The ARTery council continued to grow and thrive, and the effect of their activities was experienced across the Burning Man organization. In addition, this year saw the birth of the artist resource meetings. These meetings, held at the Burning Man offices, brought together the grant artists to discuss their plans for how to accomplish their art project. The artists discussed and brainstormed ideas on how to best motivate and retain volunteers during the build process, particularly during the months before hitting the playa. Other issues shared included transportation to the playa, maximizing resources while on-playa, and promotion of the installations before and during the event. These meetings were positively received by the artists, and the Art Department plans on expanding on them for next year to potentially include the Man base artists.
2007 saw approximately 200 pre-registered projects, roughly the same number as in 2006, and the Artery processed all of them, as well as walk-in artists on playa. Artists at the 2007 event struggled against the number of dust storms and white-outs experienced the week before and during the event. Many of the small pre-registered installations found the weather inhibited their ability to finish their projects, thus they did not install their art. The Art Department is optimistic that in 2008, artists will feel prepared to deal with the unpredictable weather at Black Rock City, and will be able to install their projects.
For the first time ever, the area underneath the Man was seen as more than an art space, as one of exhibition. With a combined area of 30,000 square feet, the Green Man Pavilion showcased interactive exhibits that offered information on how to live a “greener”) lifestyle. Surrounding the Pavilion was a ring of close to fifty “trees” – installations designed and conceived of as trees, but made from everything from natural resources, to recycled or reclaimed products. Unfortunately the Man base was closed for several days of the event in the aftermath of the arson, while the Man was rebuilt.
The Fire Conclave continues to astound and enchant participants at the event. With their fiery performances across the playa, this group offers their gift of fire and dance and acrobatics to the citizens of Black Rock City. Their gift continues to define the nightlife at Burning Man. In 2007 the largest convergence of fire performers ever in one location at one time occurred the night of the Man burn, and while lasting only for a short time, will continue to resound in the hearts of participants throughout the year.
The Special Events team rose to new heights in 2007 with new events and offerings to help generate the playa experience off playa. In the first half of the year, the team executed a Precompression party, where participants got a sample of offerings that would be available on playa. A huge hit of Precompression was the “Trashion” show. Showcasing innovative and whimsical garments fashioned from recycled and found materials, the show was a highlight of the evening. After Burning Man 2007, the Special Events Team capped the year with a fantastic Decompression event in October.