Art at the Heart

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Fri September 28, 2012 | 00:00 AM

Burning Man conjures up all kinds of images for those who’ve never been. Naked new agers dancing till dawn. Polyamorous pursuers fueled by ecstasy. Yes, the Playa (the desert stage where the Man, the temple, and much of the art is located) is a culturally-curious place, one part hedonistic, one part idealistic. But, amidst the hippies and Silicon Valley CEOs that populate this pop-up town, the common thread is an appreciation of the life-affirming nature of the artistic spirit.

This exquisite collection of art forms is one of the thousands of art projects that occupy Burning Man’s participants in between the annual pilgrimage to the Playa. Just like the industrious Balinese toil away painting and constructing for their joyous village festivals, so do the Burners. It’s ironic that Burning Man falls on Labor Day weekend because the amount of sweat and elbow grease that goes into creating these temporary art displays is staggering. The result is the world’s largest interactive display of art on a lunar landscape that gives an otherworldly flavor to the whole experience.

So, the next time someone snickers or turns red when you mention Burning Man, remind them that while sex, drugs, and all night dancing may be part of the Playa culture, there’s no more profound and profane celebration of art on this planet.