“An aerial perspective on Burning Man 2013, in Black Rock Playa, NV”

This annual arts festival with a strong counter-cultural ethos literally is an experiment in producing alternative urban and cultural geographies that reject normative regulations embedded within societies. These geographies created last only about a week, as an escape from the regular strictures of society. Burning Man celebrates alternative spiritualities and creates monuments to impermanence while allowing people to wear zany costumes. Many feel that in leaving behind ‘the real world’ they find their true home at Burning Man. The ephemeral alternative geographies then fade back into the desert but not without creating a visually remarkable place. Some feel that the festival has become too popular and famous to be what it truly was intended to be as the rich and famous descend on the playa as well.

Questions to Ponder: Part of Burning Man’s success is due to its impermanence; if this community were created to exist year-round, would it still work? Why or why not? Why do festivals like this attract so many? What does it culturally say about the participants and the societies that they leave behind?

Tags: communityplace, architectureimages, art, landscape.

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