Burning Man Comes to Life at the Renwick Gallery


Courtesy of Ron Blunt, the Renwick Gallery

By Daniela Sol

A city built annually in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, Burning Man has been over the past years a sensational show where artists and a unique clique of people have gathered together to embrace their own kind of utopia. Burning Man is a place where self-expression, decommodification, and the arts is all mixed as a community loses itself amidst a desert.

It has been a festival that’s embraced people for more than thirty years, making it a crucial point in America’s history and culture. With self-expression being a primary focus, the art pieces are one, if not the most, impacting experience at the Burning Man city. In the past years these pieces have evolved, becoming works of a grand stature and impact, all installed in the middle of the desert where electricity is not easy to access.

The Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. has opened an interactive exhibit called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man with the cultural movement’s most significant pieces, chosen by the gallery’s curators.  Nora Atkinson, the museum’s Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, organized the exhibit together with The Burning Man group.

“This was a unique opportunity to look at Burning Man as really a part of the American story as this creative laboratory that’s linked with maker culture, that’s linked with technology, that’s linked with many of the innovative minds in our country, and that is sort of an outside part of the art world that hasn’t been looked at before in a museum setting,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson explains how this has been the largest exhibit the gallery has put together so far, filling all the museum’s rooms entirely with installations. The exhibit is not only displayed in the museum itself; statues and installations have also been placed in designated spots throughout the neighborhood.

Burning Man has since its beginning been a form of secret society, or at least an exclusive destination where everyone is welcome but not everyone can go. The fact that the Renwick Gallery and The Burning Man have prepared this exhibit for the public is an exciting time for all artist aficionados.

Most of the festival’s art is only enjoyed by those privileged enough to get to go, but the relevance of the temporary city has been such in American culture that it has become relevant in the country’s arts. This is why the Renwick is excited to present these artists who volunteer to create art for The Burning Man community and give them further exposure.

Gabriela DeLeon an interior designer living in Miami who is a loyal participant at The Burning Man community.

“It is a temporary society in which people live by these principals and it is actually successful without money or nothing,” said DeLeon. “The fact that all the art is gifted and supplied is amazing. It is all about participation.”

Atkinson explains how this concept of participation is going to be respected within the exhibit since people can interact and even add to it as they walk along the big art installations. The exhibit No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man will open to the public March 30 all the way to January 21st.

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