Burning Man Festival – The Isle Of Art And Love In The Desert

This story took place in 1986 as a bonfire ritual, when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco to say goodbye to a huge (about 3 meters) sculpture they have made before out of sticks and other burning materials.

One of them had broken up with a love of his life, so that was an act of saying goodbye to the past with a scent of vandalism. As soon as the sculpture of a man and a dog was set on fire – guys have noticed dozens of people watching them, and what is more important – supporting their actions.

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Becoming local stars, they’ve made up a decision to repeat it a year after for the public and succeeded. People wanted to see those ‘statues’ burning. By 1988, Larry Harvey formally named the summer solstice ritual “Burning Man,” by titling flyers for the happening as such; to ward off references such as “wicker man,” referring to the practice of burning live sacrifices in wicker cages.

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People returned to participate in this ‘meeting’ year after year, so in 1990, a separate event was planned by Kevin Evans and John Law on the remote and largely unknown dry lake known as the Black Rock Desert, so that more people could come and join them.

That was the moment when they made up an idea of adding more sense to the act – starting an absolutely new festival of art and love. Actually, that was cost by two factors:

1. Police ban of a burn for not having a permit.

2. A strong wish to move on and unite more people in love to radical art.

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Since that time and by now everyone can join the city in the desert, which raises up once a year for 8 days to create artworks, share experience and escape from daily routine. No laws work there for their own:
• A grid street structure.
• A speed limit of 5 mph (8 km/h).
• A ban on driving, except for approved “mutant vehicles” and service vehicles.
• Safety standards on mutant vehicles.
• Burning their own art must be done on an approved burn platform.
• A ban on fireworks.
• A ban on dogs.


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‘Burning Man’ festival achieved its ‘moon-like’ shape by the 2000’s. The central part of it is the place where all the magic is, including that huge statue to be set on fire on the end of the fest. All those ‘rays’ are the so-called ‘streets’, where people settle.

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Passive participation is strictly forbidden – once you are there – show off your own art, self-express and communicate with the others. No money system works there too. But you can get various gifts from the neighbors or share what you have there with them.

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You might wonder what happened to the statue. It is still there, although it got much taller and larger, but burning is still the most important part of the festival, which is attended by 65,000 people annually.

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