The 2015 Art Theme at Burning Man was “Carnival of Mirrors.” The Kostume Kult Tribe out of New York responded by building this camp on the Esplanade, Black Rock City’s main street. Here’s how the tribe describes itself: “The Kostume Kult arts collective is a volunteer-led, non-profit community organization supporting interactive arts, costuming, street theater and absurdist fun while bringing wonderful people together.”
Tribes and theme camps are an essential part of part of Burning Man. Tribes are basically a group of people who decide to hang out and camp together. They can come together through friendship, a common interest, or geographical location. Some number in the hundreds and have a sophisticated structure with year around planning. Others consist of a few people who more or less show up and camp together with minimal arrangements. My tribe, the Horse-Bone Tribe, resembles the latter. The increasing difficulty of obtaining tickets and the spiraling cost of attending has played havoc with smaller tribes, including ours. I may be the tribe this year. It’s a good thing I have multiple personalities. Bone will keep me company.
The larger the tribe, the more elaborate the camp. And some can be quite impressive, as today’s photos show. They help create Burning Man’s unique atmosphere. Many larger tribes also support mutant vehicles and all participate in Burning Man’s gifting society by offering some type of free service including entertainment, classes, alcohol, food, costumes, bike repair, etc. The list goes on.
Each year, Burning Man has an art theme. This year’s is Radical Ritual. According to Burning Man: “In 2017, we will invite participants to create interactive rites, ritual processions, elaborate images, shrines, icons, temples, and visions.” That’s a lot of room for creativity, and mischief. My camera will be busy. Both artists and tribes use the theme for inspiration, although it is not required. The photo of the Kostume Kult Tribes camp at the top of this post is an example.
Following are a few examples taken from different years of major camps built in Black Rock City by tribes to reflect the year’s theme or the tribe’s particular vision.
Searching for massage, raw food, ambient trance, native wisdom or numerous other paths to spiritual enlightenment, the Sacred Spaces Village offers it all— plus a really gorgeous structure.
Looking up from inside the Sacred Spaces Village.
The folks from Silicon Valley have been creating a village at Burning Man for many years. Don’t be surprised to find the billionaire founders of such companies as Google hanging out here. The camp is large enough that it needs its own map. Smaller groups within the overall village sponsor the different areas and provide different opportunities for Burners. For example, if you want to sample various types of sauerkraut, you could check in at Pickle Me Elmo.
A number of the larger camps at Burning Man are music venues. One of these is Ooligan Alley with its 747 cockpit serving as the DJ booth. The sound equipment for this camp alone is worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Celtic Chaos is another major music venue. I was amused to read that its motto is “Bringing a little more mayhem to the universe.”
The French Quarter at Burning Man brought to Black Rock City by Burners from New Orleans has always been one of my favorite camps. Great coffee and pastries can be found here, along with New Orleans Jazz.
Burners from Kentucky sponsored the KFC camp which featured fried baloney on white bread and a shot of bourbon. I stopped by for breakfast and the Colonel waved at me.
The Alternative Energy Village is the place to go if you want to learn more about alternative energy or even live off the grid. No generators are allowed in the camp.
This ‘Firehouse’ was created by the Do More Now tribe out of Seattle. Its objective is “empowering participants to challenge themselves by coming together to create innovative and playful spaces that enable and encourage the creation of art, performance and community activities. In other words – we create possibility!” It is a goal that could be applied to many of the camps at Burning Man.
I’ll conclude with this rather dreamy creation, which I have always found appealing because of its focus on white and its use of balloons. Also, check out the white mutant vehicle on the right. Unfortunately, I don’t know which tribe sponsored this camp.
I’ll be taking a blog break to wander the Central Coast of California for the next couple of weeks. See you back here afterwards!