Burning Man 2019 Preview

It is almost that time of year again for the art festival extravaganza known as “Burning Man ” and this year a sneak peek reveals the installations will not disappoint.  For those who may be unfamiliar, Burning Man is an annual festival where attendees come from across the globe to gather and share a mind-expanding experience, be a part of something special and escape from the daily grind.  A tradition spanning over three decades, the Burning Man festival is held in a remote, barren Nevada desert dubbed “Black Rock City” for the duration of the festival.  This year Burning Man runs from August 25-September 2.  If you don’t mind high heat (daytime temperatures can pass 100F/37C), fierce winds, blowing dust and sand, or crowds (there are 70,000 attendees), the art installations, creative energy and expressive ambiance hold the potential for being a highly memorable life experience. Over the years the Burning Man community has evolved into its own culture and is considered one of the places to go for creative networking.  Some people (known as “burners”) love the experience so much they plan their vacation time around it, traveling long distances to return year after year.

The transition from bohemian to billionaire culture



Of course this is not to say the Burning Man community is pure utopia.  Capitalism, commercialism, reported extravagances and luxury camps of the tech-industry elite and other corporate kingpins, celebrities and billionaires, vandalism and discrimination have begun to creep into the scene and curl the edges:

“Surely you’ve seen examples. Whether it’s commercial photo shoots, product placements, or Instagram posts thanking “friends” for a useful item, attendees including fashion models and social media “influencers” are wearing and tagging brands in their playa photos. This means they are using Black Rock City to increase their popularity; to appeal to customers and sell more “stuff.”… One of the most distressing trends is the increase of participants (both new and experienced) who don’t seem invested in co-creating Black Rock City, and are attending as consumers… ” source

“There are Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who hire people to build them air-conditioned yurts. There are private companies hiring cooks and assistants known as “Sherpas.” There’s a history of planes dropping off the wealthiest event-goers, right in the desert. Famously, in 2017, Google employees FedExed themselves lobster right to the playa.”   source

Also see:

-Burning Man has been ruined. But it was doomed from the beginning.

Champagne, private chefs and drugs: How the 1 percent do Burning Man

How CEOs Do Burning Man

The train has left the station, but organizers try to self-correct




In response to these negative influences on the Burning Man community spirit, those in charge of the festival have made a serious effort this year to do what they call, “cultural course correcting“.

To redress the troubling trend towards commercialism and consumerism at Burning Man, attendees are being reminded they are expected to follow the Decommodification Principle, it states: “In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.” source


Spoiler Alert

If you are planning on attending, here is a sneak peek of some of the installations you can expect to see at Burning Man 2019. Several have environmental messages the artists are trying to convey, like this one:


Source: Michael Tsaturyan


The #Slonik creation is a 75 ft fluorescent elephant which will be hard to miss on the Playa. #Slonik (elephant in Russian) is designed to draw attention to elephant mistreatment in Africa and Asia. We should not let the elephants go extinct. If you take one element away from the ecosystem, it will affect all the other creatures including humans themselves!  source


“I would like to encourage people not to stimulate a cruel business and ignore the shows and travel services that exploit animals. That’s the metamorphoses we all really need.”  -Artist Michael Tsaturyan

A note about health and safety


The backdrop for the Burning Man festival is beautiful and awe-inspiring, but the harsh desert environment is far more intense than many people realize. In addition to plenty of water, if you are planning to go be sure to pack a hat and sun block to protect your skin and scalp from the beating rays, scarves to cover your nose and mouth to protect your airways and sunglasses to protect your eyes from potentially serious damage that can result from the dust, sand and debris whipped around during desert windstorms. And be sure to read and take seriously the Burning Man Survival Guide.