Burning Man, the gathering dedicated to art and community that takes place yearly in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, kicked off on August 25 under the theme of Metamorphoses. And, like every year, artists from all over the world took on the challenge. Through captivating, gorgeous, and playful installations, they expressed the motif of supernatural transformation for the greatest pleasures of the Burners. For those who could not attend this year’s event, here’s a roundup of the coolest art pieces to be found in the desert this year until September 2.
The most popular installation at the gathering is probably Benjamin Langholz’s “Stone 27,” a circular staircase rising 20 feet above the Playa (the dried-up lakebed where the event takes place at the end of each summer) that invites Burners to take a meditative walk up in the air. Made up of 27 floating stones that each weigh 1,000 pounds, the installation requires balance and clarity of mind from those who want to try out.
“Skywhale” is a life-sized whale kite created by Blake Marcus, Chris Welch, and Seven. It is currently flying above the Playa. Instead of its natural habitat, this whale lives above the Burners, in full view of them in a seemingly inhospitable environment for a marine mammal, yet it thrives. The artists’ hope for their majestic creation is that it can change the relationship humans have with nature.
3. “Purr Pods”
Keeping the giant air-borne cetacean company are three large, metal, tutu-wearing cats called “Purr Pods”. The adorable kitties (Luna, Scoobydoo, and Vaga), created by artist Paige Tashner, have built-in benches for Burners to sit on and enjoy their sonic vibrations, which feel just like a real purring ball of fur. By day, they look like quiet creatures, but at night, the felines’ eyes shine with friskiness, and their bodies are illuminated with colorful LEDs projecting beautiful shadows on the desert floor.
4. “The Shrine of Sympathetic Resonance”
“The Shrine of Sympathetic Resonance” looks a little like a wooden church. The structure consists of five pentagonal rooms surrounding a rising tower, all of which are made of piano harps, antique windows, and piano soundboards (the wooden plates below the strings of a piano that amplify the sound created by their vibrations). Artist Tyson Ayers and Resonant Arts hope that the 10,000 strings present in the installation and their resonance within the structure will help Burners who explore the piece think about the significance of the reverberations of their every word, thought, and action.
5. “Bee or Not To Bee”
This eight-foot bee in the middle of the dusty Nevada desert is a reminder by artists Mr and Mrs Ferguson that things are changing negatively for the pollinating insect that is responsible for our food supplies. The installation created with broom bristles sits on a flower made of marbles, and you’re invited to touch and spend some time with the creature whose metamorphosis could define ours.
6. “Koro loko”
Because nothing is more transformational than loving and being loved, Emily Nicolosi chose to create a large, three-dimensional heart for Burning Man 2019. The piece, titled “Koro loko,” is made of woven wires covered in dichroic plexiglass squares that reflect all lights and make the structure shine for all to see and admire while on the Playa.
7. “The Monumental Mammoth”
This giant piece made of steel and recycled materials was created by a 17-year-old girl scout named Tahoe Mack and artists Luis Varela-Rico and Dana Albany. “The Monumental Mammoth,” a life-sized replica of a Columbian Mammoth, is meant to show Burners that a beautiful past lies underneath the surface of the Nevada Valley (especially Tule Springs National Monument) and that it deserves to be protected and preserved.
8. “Temple of Direction”
Geordie Van Der Bosch’s “Temple of Direction” is an Asian-temple-inspired space that provides a little time-out for Burners in need of peace and quiet, as well as shade. It is composed of several wooden, see-through square arches stacked behind each other to create a linear pathway whose width changes throughout.
9. “The Folly”
This large wooden structure that looks like a Steampunk-meets-Old-West village is the creation of Dave Keane & The Folly Builders. Complete with a windmill and a clock tower, the structure was entirely made of salvaged and reclaimed wood from San Francisco Victorian homes. Full of tight passageways, funky staircases, and hidden corners, “The Folly” is a fun structure for Burners to explore — and the view from the top is supposedly amazing.