the role and definition of artist at Burning Man

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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bettiejune
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the role and definition of artist at Burning Man

Post by bettiejune » Sun Apr 03, 2005 3:38 pm

Hi everyone,
I'm writing my graduate thesis on the art of Burning Man. My argument is that the Burning Man event offers an evolved definition and role of artist -- that many who would not necessarily define themselves as an artist do so at Burning Man. My supposition is that the nature of participation of Burning Man 'frees' us from the constraints of traditional definitions of art and artists.

What are your thoughts? What are your feelings about the role of the artist at Burning Man?

Thanks ahead of time for sharing!

lots of love and playa dust,
xxoo Bettie June

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Sun Apr 03, 2005 4:58 pm

FWIW, Burning Man is defined on the BLM permit as an "art and recreation event".

Prior to 2004, it was defined as an "art and recreation festival".

Significant difference between the two, I'd say.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

Anthony Bondi
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Where's your art?

Post by Anthony Bondi » Sun Apr 03, 2005 9:57 pm

A primary guiding principle of BRC has been just what you suggested; that any description of skill at making art that excludes the majority of the population, is bunk. You don't need a license to make art in BRC. Training may help you sing better, but there is no person incapable of singing a song, nor is any person incapable of making art. The experience of making art and sharing it is the primary gift that is passed around BRC. As the BRC infrastructure has grown, so has the need grown for many people to be occupied in BRC with supporting the infrastructure. The art in work such as this lies in personalizing the task, making any work done in some way reflect the particular character of the person performimg it. A quick guage of whether a person's art was successful, or whether their BRC support work was artful, is if they feel better when they're done with the work than they did before they began. The parties that occur in BRC are simply what artists and most other people do AFTER hard days (or nights) spent on their primary BRC work.

robotland
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Post by robotland » Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:26 am

I'm a working artist in the Default World- It took me a long, long time to finally realize that not everybody feels compelled to express themselves "artistically" in the traditional sense ALL THE TIME, as I do, and that the majority feel that they have "nothing to say" and "no artistic talent".... When I participate in art fairs and gallery shows I routinely hear people say things like"I wish I could do that" or "I could never do that". The arts are often compressed into their own self-consuming, self-appreciating subculture composed of the financially endowed and the highly educated, where obscure references to Greek mythology and veiled political allegories serve to baffle the person on the street. Art done for the sake of Beauty or Fun is often scorned by the Enlightened Ones in the art institutions. When I first attended Burning Man in 2003 I expected there to be LOTS of professional artists and was pleasantly surprised to discover that that almost NOBODY was a professional and that almost EVERYBODY was an artist. Freed from the likelihood of derision from self-anointed Art Critics, people COULD "do that". Attending Burning Man has changed my perception of what it means to be an artist more than any other single experience in my life. I took a year off from doing exhibits while relocating, and now instead of going back to doing shows in the traditional sense I'm motivated to create a more welcoming, open artistic event of my own. Harder here in Western Michigan than on either coast, but if it'll work in the desert it'll work in Kalamazoo.......
Howdy From Kalamazoo

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Chai Guy
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Post by Chai Guy » Mon Apr 04, 2005 4:27 pm

First of all I love everything that Robotland said, and I'd like to use that as my jumping off point
Freed from the likelihood of derision from self-anointed Art Critics, people COULD "do that".
Very true, but beyond that you are freed from the idea or need for your art to be commecially viable. When you take the profit motive out of art, interesting things start to happen with both art and artist.

Burning Man provides everyone a blank canvas on which to create. You might be working a boring desk job 9-5, but for that one week out of the year you can become almost anything you like, and no one will question it.

Always wanted to open a bar? You can do that.
Always wanted to be a ballerina? You can do that.
Always wanted to make a giant Lite-brite? Build it!
I'm motivated to create a more welcoming, open artistic event of my own.
YES! I would love to come to that event!

robotland
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Post by robotland » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:50 am

Chai Guy wrote:Very true, but beyond that you are freed from the idea or need for your art to be commecially viable. When you take the profit motive out of art, interesting things start to happen with both art and artist.
Very, very true. It's a strange thing to watch how the creative process becomes perverted and subverted when I do art fairs.....As soon as you start "making things that sell", and multiples of similar things instead of individual one-offs, an entire region of your right hemisphere closes down and starts to die. Making and gifting little art things at Burning Man has really messed with my Retail Artistic Consciousness......This Fall I plan to continue the gifting at the Wheatland Music Festival here in Michigan, where the concept is unknown in any formal sense, and am eager to observe the results.

Thanks for the kind words, Chai! Good example of the BEST kind of gift.
Howdy From Kalamazoo

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GlowScreen
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The role and definition of artist at Burning Man

Post by GlowScreen » Thu Apr 28, 2005 12:09 pm

Hi,

The participatory culture of Burning Man frees us from not just the traditional definitions of who is an artist, but also allows us to reinvent what is thought of as the “art world.” If art is not a commodity then how is one to collect it? If non-collectable art is the status quo, then the monetary value of the existing collections decreases.

Interactive and performance art in this way threatens the very fiber of the art world. With the onset of the Renaissance the patrons of the arts moved from being primarily religious institutions (i.e. the Catholic Church) into being private collectors and art became commoditized.

There is now a shift away from commoditization that is new with in the past fifty years. Burning Man is on the cutting edge of this wave. It may take a generation or two before the straight art world catches up with the artists and accepts this work as valid. This is not unusual. When Impressionism was first displayed in the 19th Century it was called crude and scandalous. Few of those painters saw any financial success in their lifetimes. Likewise Surrealism and Pop Art were dismissed for years by the establishment.

Thank god I have very little to do with the legitimate straight art world.

Much Luv from your Co-Conspirator

Amy Shapiro
http://amyshapiro.com/

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AntiM
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Post by AntiM » Thu Apr 28, 2005 12:41 pm

I really love to paint, to make things whether jewelry, sewing or miniatures. Burning Man allows me to feel like I've accomplished something with my "craftyness", permits me to feel as though my creations are more than idle time fillers. I'm no professional, but I do feel like a "real" artist now.

That's why my project this year is a small gallery of adoptable art; mostly my own explorations in the color and texture of paint, but hey, it is open to anyone with any visual medium. I'm getting a lot of donation offers of Bad Thrift Store Art, but I am really hoping people will feel they can display (and gift) their original pieces, no matter how "unprofessional."

And I do have to take long breaks from painting or I find myself trying to make pieces people will like rather than playing with the paints.

(Do find Anti M's Home for Wayward Art and give some poor homeless Art a new life)

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