When a Camp Becomes an Artistic Statement… My 11 Years of Burning Man

The creativity that goes into making the mutant vehicles I have featured in my last several posts about Burning Man also goes into most other elements of of the event. For example, the Burning Man Organization, BMO, requires commercial media operations to check in and obtain credentials. BMO could put up a nondescript building for this purpose. Instead, this is what they built in 2015 to reflect that year’s theme, A Carnival of Mirrors.
As I recall, the mouth opened and served as the door. I wondered if a person with a fear of clowns would go through the door.

If you have been following my Burning Man posts over the past couple of months, you now have a fair idea of what mutant vehicles look like. Today, I am moving off of the Playa and into Black Rock City, starting with a look at the structures built by large camps (villages). A camp is usually made up of people who share a common interest or background. All of these photos were taken during the 11 years I have attended the event: 2004-5-6-7-9-10-12-13-14-15 and 17. It is interesting to note that these structures are built to last one week, going up at the beginning of Burning Man and coming down at the end.

I never did find the name of this particular village, so, I called it Camp Bubbles. Note how the mutant vehicle at the right follows the camp’s white theme.
The NOLA Camp recreates a bit of old New Orleans. There is even a cafe where free beignets and chicory coffee is offered to Burners.
This structure provided shade for the Sacred Spaces Village at Burning Man one year.
The entrance. Inside a variety of meditation options were featured.
One year, a Burner who wanted to get married at Burning Man built this church for the purpose.
The ceremony after the wedding. For those of you who follow the Bone story, Bone was also married in the chapel to Bonetta.
Bone and the lovely Bonetta are married at Burning Man 2013.
The Elvis Wedding Chapel offered an option. And no, I didn’t see Elvis wandering around Burning Man. But I wouldn’t be too surprised…
Many camps build facilities that double as lounges or bars where free drinks are disbursed to Burners. This is the Shipwreck Tiki Lounge.
I was particularly fond of these Teepees that were set up on the edge of the Playa along the Esplanade. The Esplanade serves as a division point between Black Rock City and the Playa. Most major camps are located along the Esplanade.
Looking out from Center Camp across the Esplanade and out into the Playa.
Vamp Camp was located within the city.
As was the Firehouse with its burned out graffiti look.
A number of camps along the Esplanade located on the outer edges of the city offer music venues, very loud music. Those are speakers.
The DJ for this music venue had the nose of a 747 to spin his tunes.
Celtic Chaos had a castle.
Another music venue.
Looking for a mystic experience? Camp Mystic is the place to be. Numerous classes were offered throughout the week.
This was its mutant vehicle.
This giant fellow (who may be familiar to you, except for his pink Tutu) was found lurking among the buildings. Maybe Kong was in disguise, or drag.
I don’t know whose camp this was, but I liked the eagle with a large heart. Again, massive banks of speakers.
I conclude with this jolly devil whose mouth provided an entry into the Kostume Kult.

NEXT POST: A view of Black Rock City outside of the large camps, out in the boonies where I lived.

18 thoughts on “When a Camp Becomes an Artistic Statement… My 11 Years of Burning Man

  1. I find myself quite speechless after one of your Burning Man posts. Wowza! Two clown mouth entrances might be enough for me. I love the bubble camp. Markedly different and simple in design compared to much of what you have shown us.

    • Lots and lots of trucks, Alison, including some semis and some past their prime, over loaded trucks that look like they belong in a Steinbeck book about the Great Depression. For a few days before and after the event, they can totally change the character of Interstate 80 near Reno. You can almost always spot a vehicle going to Burning Man. 🙂 –Curt

  2. Have you been keeping up with the kerfluffle over increased regulation at Burning Man by the feds? That ought to be interesting to track.

    But what I’m more interested in is Bone’s wedding. I don’t remember reading about this before, and inquiring minds want to know: where is his lovely bride? did he just run off and leave her after the ceremony? Are there bonelets waiting for dad to come home? Or did they split? We need answers!

    I must say, those teepees may be the first thing I’ve seen at burning Man that I really, really liked — without any reservation or puzzlement. They’re beautifully done.

    • There is no doubt that Burning Man has a significant impact on the desert environment for the week it is in operation and that these impacts need to be mitigated, Linda. It seems that BLM is much less concerned about the mining, forest, and cattle operations it supports, however. My thoughts are that it may be as much as a cultural clash as it is a concern over environmental damage. It may also be a form of negotiation to get more money.

      Bone is still happily married and lives here with the lovely Bonette and Baby Bone. But (isn’t there always a but), he still likes to wander around. Bonette, who he found in a Florida swamp is more of a stay-at-home type.

      I too, really enjoyed the Teepees. –Curt

  3. When you post these photos every year, my mouth just hangs open. Part of it is wonder and awe, and part of it is more that I’m overwhelmed. Now, please don’t think I’m being a killjoy, but after a while, doesn’t all this “stuff” getting transported in and out of there year after year start to seem wasteful?! What do they do with all the materials after they are carted away?

    • More and more of the permanent art is making its way into communities, private collections and museums, Lexi. Very few pieces come back to the event. Mutant vehicles come back, but they have usually morphed into something slightly different. (The cat car, which is owned by one of the founders is an exception.) Villages store and reuse their building materials, I’m sure. But the nature of the materials enables them to create different types of structures, or at least decorate them differently. Then there are the burns. 🙂 –Curt

  4. Imagination run wild. I do get the feeling these do’s aren’t being put on by starving artists – it would take a lot of resources and planning to do even one camp, much less the mutant vehicle that seems to go with it.

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