I felt that there was a clear lack of art this year. There were amazing pieces to be clear, but there will always be amazing pieces, however I personally found myself looking for more. I think I could have easily been jaded by my own experience working on my project but it just felt like there was a large amount missing. I think this comes back to a number of factors. Artistic fixtures like Flux foundation, 5 ton crane, Kate Raudenbush, Mike Garlington and Zac Coffin all didn't receive grants this year and all are known for making incredible pieces. There were a number of less experienced grant recipients in their place which most likely led to a couple great surprises but the return is a bit harder to predict on newer talent (it took us 3 projects before we finally made something that anyone noticed). The early weather certainly played a role in less projects showing up or completing, I had heard a that a large number of projects simply didn't come to playa due to weather complications. There were a number of great pieces that had serious challenges functioning (Hudzo's Eternal Return was one of the most remarkable things I had ever seen). The projection Skull and the Labyrinth inspired planets were both projects that struggled to find completion.
From an artists perspective we were faced with a number of administrative issues. New systems in place, such as the car pass and the ticket distribution system obviously put some people off. Placing art on the playa is a bit more difficult now than when it was in 2009 (my first year making art) which I am sure chased away another small number of projects. I imagine the newly implemented safety committee is playing a role in reducing some of the wonderfully janky pieces of art. I was told by a number of insiders that pieces like Uncronia would most likely not get approved in the modern Burning Man eco-system. The art car process is tighter, once again filtering out some of the more "dangerous" art cars.
And to be honest and this is all just my personal perspective, art has become more frustrating to do at Burning Man. I still adore the city, and I will always adore all of the people, however, we are artists and it is no fun being a politician (I think that was subtle enough to avoid stepping on to many toes,...