Why would anyone spend four months and $180,000 building something that will only last a week? The answer says a lot about Burning Man culture.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY JOHN CURLEY
Steven T. Jones, City Editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, has a story about an art festival that could only come from the American West:
Temples are the spiritual centers and gathering places for the communities that build them, standing as testaments to their faith. In traditional culture, they are lasting monuments. At Burning Man, these complex, beautiful structures are destroyed at the end of the festival.
Building something that takes months to plan, design, and construct but lasts only a week takes an unusual attitude and a faith — not in some unknowable deity, but in one another and the value of collective artistic collaboration. In many ways, the Temple of Flux, this year's spiritual centerpiece on the playa, represents the essence of an event that is redefining the American counterculture.
Burning Man has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years as it moves from a wild bohemian celebration on the open frontier into a permanent counterculture with well-developed urban values, vast social networks, and regional manifestations around the world.
The Temple of Flux crew toiled for months in West Oakland's huge, burner-run American Steel workspace, designing, cutting, painting, and assembling the parts and pieces of what would become five massive wooden structures. And for the last few weeks, they camped and worked in the desert to create what looks like a stunning series of peaks and canyons, dotted with caves and niches that tens of thousands of visitors will explore this week.