Any Insights Into Placing Art on Playa?

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Cat Butt
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Any Insights Into Placing Art on Playa?

Postby Cat Butt » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:50 pm

I’m curious about how much placing art on playa impacts your sense of spontaneity and increases a sense of responsibility…. does it get in the way of the spontaneous madness at BM, does it enhance it, or is a mixture? Or, is placing art on playa just going to provide a totally different type of experience there?

Some Context

I’ve been to Burning Man 9 times. Always part of small camps (8 – 15 people), and always gone with good friends. We avoid having group meals, or anything scheduled. No judgement on folks that like that stuff… just found that it doesn’t work well with how we like to go. One of the things I love about BM is the chance to completely cut loose of any sense of responsibilities and the chance to leave any time-checking devices at home. Basically maximizing the ability to have completely spontaneous decisions for a week.

That being said, our camp has been stepping up our game through these last years. We started squeezing fuck-tons oforanges at camp, and then biking around to deliver ice-cold-fresh-squeezed OJ to unsuspecting people. It’s been great… even though it’s work.


We’re now considering applying to get some art on playa…. have an idea we’re pretty darn psyched about, but also feeling a little trepidatious about the following:

[list=]The added work load of getting something up on playa: Totally understand and embrace the amount of work going to BM requires, but we want to make sure we’re being as realistic as possible when it comes to additional work. Also, it this concern obviously is impacted by the size and complexity of the art.

The potential impact on spontaneity: I was BMs art installation section on their site, and saw that you’re required to do daily moop checks, as well as lighting checks each day.

Any other stuff we’re just not familiar with because we’ve never done this before.[/list]

So, I would be exceptionally grateful for an any feedback on these points. Have you ever had an experience placing art on playa? If so, how did it change your experience from years when you didn’t? Did you feel any sense of burden? Did it take away from a sense of spontaneity? What did it add to your experience? Are there any considerations for total art-playas newbies, that aren’t totally obvious?

Also, what is the process generally? I was looking for info on early arrival and all that… do you get early arrival passes? If so, how many? Does it depend on how many people need to help get the art up? Can you take stuff down on Saturday vs. Sunday? Couldn’t find anything about this on BM’s site.

Thank you very much in advance for your replies.

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Re: Any Insights Into Placing Art on Playa?

Postby Ratty » Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:32 pm

I participated in an installation one year. Tiny tropolis. A call went out for people to make a diorama, light it and maintain it once installed. We were not allowed to take it down till Sunday but then it was required. I think it was a success. Most of them were great and well lit. Some got stolen. Some were left behind. I'm glad I did it. We had a 'party' in Oakland where we delivered our finished boxes. (I was the only one in costume.) I hadn't thought of this in years.

My advice to you is do it if you love and value art. Commit to the daily mooping and upkeep. You answered your own question about WAPs.

Your camp squeezes oranges and then takes it out to deliver? Hmmm.

P.S. My contribution was a vignette of dumpster diving Barbies.
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Re: Any Insights Into Placing Art on Playa?

Postby gaminwench » Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:59 pm

I think as long as your crew is realistic about their ability to deliver and maintain the work throughout the week, it can be a very rewarding experience.

We currently have an Artist in our camp who brings playa Art every two years; large projects that he *mostly* handles solo; he builds them in Reno, then re-assembles in the dust, with the assistance of the HEAT folks.
It consumes his life out there, but he's happy with that.

A different theme camp I was with, many moons ago, conceived and brought a piece that was built on-playa.
It didn't get finished until Saturday (Manburnday), burners did all kinds of mischief to it during the build, and the project lead had a breakdown on Friday and had to be airlifted off the playa.
It was clearly too much for our camp to handle.
"the prophecies of doom were better last year" trilo

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Cat Butt
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Re: Any Insights Into Placing Art on Playa?

Postby Cat Butt » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:20 am

Thanks for the replies! Definitely sounds like it can add some heavy lifting.... and that makes perfect sense. Also part of the thing I'm hoping to get clarity on:

Aside from the truly epic experiences like the one you described (so sad and horribly, mildly amusing) is the heavy lifting and extra work really felt throughout the week, or is it more of a set-it-and-forget-it kind of a thing? I'm very, very interested in watching people interact with it, and would love to spend time out there just hanging out near the thing, so I'm really more talking about set-it-and-forget-it in terms of extra work and responsibilities throughout the event. The daily moop/lighting checks sound like they aren't too involved, so seems like most of the effort is in the beginning and end of the event. Is that accurate?

Also, any knowledge about the process? Like how many early passes you get to set things up, when you actually can get in to get things up and what options you have for taking it down?

Oh, and I should probably mention that the thing we're thinking of doing does not involve fire, or a ton of lights. Need lighting for night-time visibility, but it's not a focus of the work. This is more of a structure we'd put up and then not need to manage after that (in terms of getting fuel into an a fire art piece)....

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Dr Helix
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Re: Any Insights Into Placing Art on Playa?

Postby Dr Helix » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:27 pm

I have done several large art installations over the last 8 years and what i have learned is as follows:

If you can set it and forget it do it. I have done site builds out there and it's always tough. Now I make it here and ship it up, then lift and set.

If you are building off site, build it once there. Do NOT come to the playa having never assembled it. I don't care what your CAD drawing told you or your calcs say, you may have cut something wrong and it will be extremely difficult to fix. Do you really want to spend your whole week trying to make it work?

It is a process to get an honorarium, but definitely worth it. Besides the seed money, BM gives you a lot of support.

WAP's are only issued to your core team. And they check. Don't pad it.

You will spend time at your project. A lot of time actually, but it's great fun and a chance to interact. But you don't have to babysit it unless it's fragile. You have to light it at night, but a good gennie can handle all the lights you need. Solar? Iffy but there are plenty who do that.

Monday is takedown day but plenty start earlier or later than that. depends on the project. My advice is Monday or Tuesday. Less people in your way. Equipment is hard to get though so plan on waiting.

Don't bite off too much the first time. It'll kick your ass. Plenty of people with big ideas that blow up out there (read again; set and forget).

That's all I got. Good luck!
"Love, Rockets and write when you get work"

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