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Aug 28th - Sept 4th





Burning Man 2005
Man atop the Funhouse

  • The Man slowly spun on his all-seeing tower over the labyrinthine interior of a circus tent.
  • His counterpart, Laughing Sal, was posted at the entry. (Dana Albany and Flash)
  • Fun House Psyche Show Freaks panels adorned each entrance. (Jennybird Alcantara)
  • Red inside, green outline with yellow and green neon ornament details.

Zachary Coffin’s monumental kinetic sculpture Colossus stood in the Keyhole directly above Center Camp, and its three tall spikes could be seen from anywhere on the playa, constantly in motion as participants slowly spun the huge boulders suspended from its metal arms.

The event benefited from an increase in the Burning Man Project's art grants from $250,000 to $425,000, with funding for 52 art installations, helping to bring more art to the playa than ever before — 275 installations in total. Magnificent pieces broke through thresholds of experience, engineering, design, and interactivity, opening the door to riches of inspired possibilities in future years. From Colossus to The Dicky Box, The Machine, and The Dreamer, from the Angel of the Apocalypse to the Mousetrap, the art of 2005 was, in a word, outstanding.

Our population grew and grew over the years, and by 2004 the city size began to edge towards disassociating people from the larger and increasingly unwieldy and far-flung community. Plazas came to our aid. Though they showed up as a concept as early as 1997, they were not fully realized until much later. Designing plazas (complete with services such as Rangers, Medical, Ice, information, and a group of theme camps that fully embraced their placement) in 2005 helped create a more localized neighborhood feel, allowing people to identify with a more manageable portion of the larger community.

Harley K. DuBois -Managing Diversity: The Zoning of Black Rock City
In 2005 the community’s Temple again appeared in its usual position behind the Man. David Best passed along the task of creating the Temple of Dreams to his crew member, Mark Grieve. Mark and the crew created lovely red Japanese-style pagodas, which were constantly in use. As always, shrines, altars, photos, and written tributes accumulated in the Temple grounds throughout the week, making it once again the community’s sacred place of grieving and remembrance.

If this results in kick-ass BM-funded art, both Harvey and Chicken will undoubtedly lay claim to being the victor in the "art duel". But ultimately, it's the citizens of Black Rock City who are the real winners in this battle. - Less Ly - Piss Clear August 2005, issue 26

Members of Interpretive Arson began Dance Dance Immolation, when they received a grant from BORG2. Photo Thomas Fang

The event’s relationship to art was influenced by a group of concerned artists who organized to form “BORG2” immediately following the 2004 event. They mounted a boisterous campaign of protest against what they perceived to be insular and self-limiting policies and practices of the Burning Man Art Department, particularly with regard to the process by which artists are selected to receive funding grants.

While many BORG2 complaints were rooted in rumor rather than fact, the essence of their grievance had validity, and it was taken into account as the Art Department reinvented itself. At the very least, the protest shook up preconceived notions about the relationship of artists to the Burning Man community and triggered rethinking of the approach to that relationship.

Jim Mason and Chicken John wrote and released in an ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, their "We have a Dream" Petition that was widely discussed by the Burning Man Community on and the eplaya. The challenge BORG2 offered was accepted by Larry Harvey in a letter:

Dear Chicken, Jim and the other participants of the BORG2,

On behalf of BORG1, I, Larry Harvey, accept your bet. What is more is truly more. Let a hundred flowers bloom! Let a thousand schools contend!

To enter more fully into the sporting spirit of this contest, please let me rehearse the terms of the wager. You pledge to create a "massively collaborative" art installation achieved through "radically democratic means" in an allotted district of Black Rock City, and you will accomplish this feat entirely with your own funding. The art that you produce will then be matched against our own poor efforts at supporting and creating art. Should your woo woo trump our hoo ha on the playa, I pledge to reconsider my opposition to your radically democratic curatorial methods. Should our hoo ha make your woo woo look ho hum, you commit to sit all day in a dunking booth at next year's Decompression. Let Chaos Provide! ...

I'm confident that your eloquence (combined with the generous support of the 1,000 people who have already signed the We Have a Dream petition) can generate a ground swell of support for the ambitious project you propose.

I sincerely hope that you will reach your stated fundraising goal of $250,000 in 2005 [please refer to the previous bracketed statement], and may the best BORG win!

Larry Harvey

This was followed with an in-depth Petition Response on the Burning man site with more specifics

I've read the We Have a Dream petition with interest. I think it will spur discussion and provoke some new ideas. ... I take the authors of the manifesto at their word when they proclaim that they sincerely care -- and care passionately -- about the welfare and future direction of Burning Man....

Yet this uniqueness, this intimacy of connection, can't ever mean they own it for exclusive use. Most certainly, it doesn't mean that any particular group can claim that they have "made" the event. Burning Man belongs, in fact, to everyone who gives to it, to many thousands of people, and it is this spirit of giving, this vision of the power of a gift -- and not a grant or vote -- that has been forgotten here.

Larry Harvey
Read the entire response

The Art of Burning Man 2005

The art and people of Burning Man 2005 by Lenny Jones and Claudia Rose. This video features a special Hurricane Katrina tribute performance by Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping as well as Singer Joan Baez. Music by Cirque Du Soleil "Solarium/Delirium"

Malcolm in the Middle goes to Burning Man: Season 7, Episode 1 airs with cast of characters including Diaper Frat boy, Hippy Girl, Rebirth guy and Trumpet Strumpet.

For the twentieth time in 2005, the Burning Man was built and then set ablaze. No one could have predicted, back on Baker Beach in 1986, that a match was being put not just to an effigy, but also to the start of a cultural revolution.

Staffers labored through the off-season to improve the operational efficiency of the organization. All departments, from Media Mecca to the Department of Public Works, from Community Services to Technology, made great strides and realized sweeping successes in 2005. Overall, the city’s infrastructure ran as smoothly as possible. From the Gate to the Greeters, from Emergency Services to Exodus, all the departments in the Burning Man organization seemed to have their processes on rails, and experience showed in the execution.

Mother Nature played nice and blessed the BRC encampment with some of the best weather the event has seen. After some short-lived wind storms on Monday, the remainder of the week saw light winds, reasonable daytime and nighttime temperatures, beautiful blue skies, and a solid playa surface. Gone were the viciously chilly dust storms of 2004, so artists completed their projects without being battered senseless, and everybody could explore their city with ease.

The event benefited from an increase in the Burning Man Project’s art grants from $250,000 to $425,000, with funding for 52 art installations, helping to bring more art to the playa than ever before — 275 installations in total.

Addressing another challenge in 2005, Black Rock City’s planning team responded to the pervasive feeling that civic environment was becoming bifurcated between city and suburbs ..and took on an initiative to redesign Black Rock City’s layout, extending a portion of the 485 theme camps out into the “suburbs” in hopes of creating organic micro-communities or neighborhoods.

Read more

In 2005, the Burning Man community reached out to the world beyond the event. As news of Hurricane Katrina’s destructive wrath trickled into Black Rock City, participants quickly organized and took action, raising over $35,000 in donations for the relief effort while still at the event, and deploying crews to the area that eventually helped reconstruct a devastated Biloxi community.

Joan Baez at Burning Man 2005 - After the News of Katrina hit the the playa

[In New Orleans after Katrina, Burners] applied methods learned in the desert – building domes, gifting supplies, fostering community, and working in the face of brutal adversity – to get the job done. Dedicated crews adopted the moniker "Burners Without Borders," which truly speaks to the future of Burning Man, taking the event’s principles off the playa and out into the world. Learn more at
  • Great weather, more art and smooth operations combined to create what many dubbed "The best Burning Man yet."
  • The San Francisco Chronicle created "Burning Man At 20" – a feature series commemorating the twentieth burn. During the months leading up to the event, the paper published a series of articles about all things Burning Man.
  • The Funhouse, the most intricate complex Man-base to date, was completed ahead of schedule. The structure contained a maze with 41 rooms – each with a different work of theme-related art. Participants who found their way through the maze could climb to the second level and rotate the Man.
  • The Burning Man Project increased funding for art projects to support 32 artists. In total, 275 art projects took their places on the playa.
  • A group of Burning Man participants calling themselves "BORG2" made a public challenge of the Burning Man Project to an "art duel" with a bet that BORG2 would raise $250,000 for art. BORG2 raised only $25,000, Chicken John ended up in a dunk tank at SF Decompression.
  • A team of staff and volunteers from multiple departments redesigned the layout of Black Rock City. The new layout distributed Theme Camps radially into the city reducing the separation between the esplanade and streets farther back in the city.
  • Theme camp registration processed 508 applications, and 485 theme camps were placed in Black Rock City.
  • The Department of Mutant Vehicles registered 455 mobile artworks, including 297 daytime vehicles, 33 nighttime-only vehicles, and 125 that roved the playa both day and night.
  • Black Rock City's FAA-approved airport landed 92 planes with no problems or accidents.
  • The Regional Contacts program grew to 80 regional groups worldwide, with an additional 35 interested applicants pending. The Regional Information Center was in Center Camp for the second year in a row. Burning Man hosted a regional summit in First Camp during the event.
  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed a more stringent cleanup standard and inspection protocol for all permitted events within the Black Rock-High Rock National Conservation Area. The standard allows no more than 1 square foot of debris per acre. Burning Man passed the inspection on October 4, 2005. In 15 years of site inspections and monitoring, the BLM has discovered no significant long-term environmental effects caused by the Burning Man event.
  • A delegation of board members traveled to Washington, D.C., for the third year in a row to meet with legislators and BLM officials. This year, the delegation also met officials from the Department of the Interior, who oversee all BLM operations.
  • Embodying the principles of community, a group of dedicated participants, volunteers, and Burning Man staff organized their own independent relief effort on playa for the victims of hurricane Katrina. The efforts continued after the event ended and included raising and donating funds, entertaining refugees, and rebuilding communities. A crew from the Department of Public Works (DPW), Rangers, and temple crew volunteers set up operations in Biloxi. Calling themselves "Burners Without Borders," they worked to rebuild a Buddhist temple destroyed by the hurricane.
  • A new version of the "plone"-based Burning Man extranet was rolled out with improved features enabling staff and volunteers to communicate and share files from anywhere on the globe.
  • Participants created PlayaNET, a public WiFi system covering all of Black Rock City.

In 2005, after publishing the spring Black Top Gazette, the editorial staff and publishers of the Black Rock Gazette decided to pursue separate missions, with the Gazette becoming a one page Gate edition.

Dedicated Gazette staff created the Black Rock Beacon as a completely participant-driven publication. As an independent publication, the editors of the Beacon naturally enjoy full journalistic license to cover the news in Black Rock City without any oversight by the Burning Man Project.

The Dreamer, by Pepe Ozan
Bumming Man by BORG3

Photo Michael Stewart