Burning Man came back in a big way after a two-year COVID-induced hiatus. Not only did this year’s event in remote Black Rock City, Nevada draw an incredible 80,000 attendees and end with an epic eight-hour traffic jam, it also featured a record 88 official art installations. This year’s theme was “Waking Dreams,” aimed at “explor[ing] the transformative power of dreams, both literal and figurative, and celebrat[ing] the dreamers who channel this potent energy in eye-opening, often surrealistic, sometimes life-changing ways,” according to the festival’s organizers.
Here are 6 of our favorite works of art from Burning Man 2022:
Every year, one monumental art installation is set ablaze along with the Burning Man effigy. This year, it was “Empyrean Temple” by Laurence Renzo Verbeck and Sylvia Adrienne Lisse, an architectural structure that’s revealed to be a compass rose beacon in the shape of an eight-pointed star when viewed from above. The installation represents “the region just beyond our physical realm that is the highest center of wisdom, and the source of energy-consciousness,” according to the artists. Visitors passed through portal gates and into the “multiverse” of the temple, where numerous navigational choices offer different experiences.
Made of reclaimed lumber and trees burned in the CZU Lighting Complex fire in Santa Cruz, an interactive grove of geometric trees sprouts out of the sand. “Paradisium” by Dave Keane and Folly Builders of San Francisco creates a play of shadows across the desert floor and offers climbable structures and walkways among the canopies. The artists explain that “Paradisium is a grove made out of trees, long fallen, that remind us of the forest’s beauty and our interconnectedness and interdependence with nature, while also fostering a sense of community and an investment in our shared future.”
This colossal sculpture by Marco Cochrane and Julia Whitelaw measured 40 feet by 12 feet and was made out of stainless steel rods based on a “flower of life” pattern and covered in stainless steel mesh with LED lighting effects.
“Inspired by and in honor of nurturing energy… mother energy… love and connection: and the joy we feel when we act on the imperative to take care of each other and our planet,” the artists explain. “Julia’s vision for Gaia was inspired by the joy she and her children experienced those times when, as a young mother, she took her children to the beach and watched as they ran, jumped, dug, built castles, bickered, buried each other, and made new friends, and by her own memories of being that child.”
Architect John Marx and artist J Abinthia Vermut created this spectacular open-air art gallery challenging the “elitist” nature of typical galleries. The “radically inclusive and interactive museum space” creates a space for everyone to make art and become an exhibiting artist. Located on the edge of Black Rock City, the unusual shaped structure invited guests to create their own art on the spot, contributing directly without gatekeeping.
The artists add: “When participants exit, they find themselves on a stage, the Theater of the Participant, which opens you back up to the vast potential of the Playa and the World beyond. This is the stepping-stone to becoming the change you want to make in the world…”
A collaboration between Serge Beaulieu and Yelena Filipchuck, this piece is inspired by embroidery patterns from Filipchuk’s birthplace, Ukraine. “It is not possible for us to think of this year without thinking of her homeland and wanting to represent the beauty and spirit of Ukraine while working through the emotions of this challenging time in our artwork,” the artists explain.