Burning Man as a basis of radical self-expression

Members of the Trash Kan Marchink Band perform. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Even the supercool club parties don’t beat the events which can be justly considered as the hottest in the world. By the way, in the ordinary sense of this word. We are talking about the festival of radical self-expression “Burning Man” which became a forebear among the similar festivals. How did the tendency of creation and burning spread all over the world – in the new Popsop research.

The art-festival “Burning Man” has been being held in Nevada for more than 25 years. The three pillars which carry the main idea of the event are creativity, freedom and love. In order to try hand in every path people meet together in a tent camp in Black Rock Desert on the last Monday of January and have fun, rest and create the whole week. Thanks to the participants’ talents huge fantastic figures, unusual installations, sculptures grow up on the wide open sand spaces, but they are doomed to be burned (by the rules of the festival).

In order to estimate the immensity of the event we wish to make a point that the festival gathered more than 50000 people this year.


An audience is different enough: from hipsters and ordinary people to celebrities and famous people. Brazilian model Manoela Klein (Instagram — @manoelaklein) from New York expressed her impression from the festival on her webpage in Instagram.


If you deepen into the history which is more like a legend, you will find out that everything began in 1986. Larry Harvey full of one-way love feelings together with his friends burnt a wooden scarecrow on the unmanned beach in San-Francisco. His act of radical self-expression attracted people’s attention. Next year over 200 people arrived to watch the burning which became a tradition very soon. And in 1990 the number of those who wish to “express themselves and become free” in such a way reached incredibly high level. And up to now the culmination of the festival is burning of a scarecrow.


So, the fest became legendary and provided an example for the appearance of similar fests. For instance, in Karoo Desert in South Africa the festival of radical self-expression «Afrika Burn» (AB) began to be carried out. Here as in the Burning man the youth and adults meet together in the tent town Tankwa to sing, dance and create.

Every year the theme of the event is being chosen and the participants create the works of art according to it. By the way, there’s no particular audience, i. e. viewers or participants. Every person can stand on a stool and begin a performance – and it is possible that the crowd will applaud him in a minute. Everything depends on a talent and personal qualities. Nowadays the fest’s crew size is 5000 people.


A creative personality, traveller and public person Charlotte De Cock (Instagram — @ajourneywithcharlotte) shared her impressions from the event.


Since 2014 The Negev desert in Israel became the place for one more Burning man analogue under the name “Midburn”. Over 3000 hippies, cowboys, free artists and other hipsters took part in it. Installations, art exhibitions, performances, thematic camps, art cars – you can see everything on the festival Midburn. Besides, here you can master theatrical art, singing, drawing and even manual therapy courses. And, traditionally, burning of art figures at the end. The audience is 3000 people.


Shortly before the fest a couple of travellers Ben Scheflan and Alex Barket (Instagram — @travelmuffins) give guidance to all their friends who became the participants of the event.


Of course, the number of participants of the festivals which took over the Burning Man’s tendencies and traditions is not equitable, so do the events’ goals. By the way, every fest is devoted to the topical social issues: from the eternal struggle of right and wrong to the ecology and urbanization. This year ancient Roman goddess Juno protecting marriages and defending mothers has become the symbol of the festival. The event was devoted to the birth rate problem.

A lot of Burning Man parrticipants are sure that the fest changes the man’s mental world to the good. And if the traditions are being adopted it should be done in all things.