For the second year in a row (check out last year’s report here) we’d like to share some of the most amazing, ridiculous, and inspiring architecture of Burning Man, which just wrapped up in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. And like last year the Playa’s temporary installations didn’t disappoint; displaying an aggressive level of imagination and ambition for Burning Man’s 25th anniversary (has it really been that long?).
The theme this year was Rites of Passage, although we’re not sure the artists here are interested in following any rules. Photographer Michael Holden was on the ground to document the event. Here are our favorites from Burning Man 2011:
The Burning Man
By Rod Garrett
This year the Burning Man—the symbol of the festival—was perched atop two pinnacles divided by a chasm. Four semi-pyramids surrounded the structure, creating alcoves for performance. Of course at the end of the festival the installation was torched.
Tower of Transformation
by Joe Arnold, Estes Park, CO
This is one of the projects that really adhered to the festival’s theme. According to its creators the Tower of Transformation represents the passage from “our self-imposed limitations to a world of pure, unbounded possibility.” Formed by two very different sculptures connected by a hyperbolic frame, the base of the sculpture contracted inward and was covered with battered armor plating and rusty chains representing “the defenses that bind us in self-doubt and self-censure.” The top is a lotus blossom that opened outward and upward representing “pure potentiality and possibility.”
The Temple of Transition
by Chris Hankins, Diarmaid Horkan, and the International Art Megacrew, Reno, NV, Dublin, Ireland, and Aukland, NZ
Described by its creators as a “place where we both remember and look ahead,” the installation consists of five smaller temples surrounding a larger central temple. Each temple contains altars, shrines, decorated archways, windows, and walkways, each “exploring a different phase of life,” and promoting “peacefulness, reverence, and reflection.”
by Bryan Tedrick, Glen Ellen, CA
One of several sexual-themed installations, Orgasm was a rotating 20′ x 8′ steel vessel that was filled with wood and burned. The shapes that form the vessel included a phallic inner basket made of stainless steel and an outer receiving structure (yes, it was meant to look like a vagina) made of regular steel. When the interior was set on fire the coming together of male and female represented an orgasm. Enough said.
by Charles Gadeken, San Francisco, CA
Like the secret portal in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the installation AURORA represented the “secret clubhouse,” the portal from a practical reality into a real life fairy tale. A metaphorical weeping willow tree rose 30 feet into the air, its trunk and copper leaves reflecting sunlight across the desert. The trunk was both solid and transparent, created from tubing bent in sinuous lines joined together with thousands of hand curved rods. The roots rose out of the ground, creating resting places for people to sit. At night, the sculpture’s branches were lit with bands of green, yellow, red, and amber light.
by Flaming Lotus Girls, San Francisco, CA
Tympani Lambada essentially represented the inner ear transformed into a physical installation through a steel armature, flame effects, LEDs, and sound effects.
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