Burning Man: Art in the Desert

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Overview

For one week in August the Burning Man Festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert brings people together in a spirit of self-reliance and creativity. Art has become the defining feature of Burning Man, as the festival continues to be a testing ground for a growing circle of artists seeking engaged audiences. Their most compelling works are large-scale constructions that are burned at the end of the festival, and radically altered vehicles, or "art ...
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Overview

For one week in August the Burning Man Festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert brings people together in a spirit of self-reliance and creativity. Art has become the defining feature of Burning Man, as the festival continues to be a testing ground for a growing circle of artists seeking engaged audiences. Their most compelling works are large-scale constructions that are burned at the end of the festival, and radically altered vehicles, or "art cars."

Art at Burning Man, like the experience of being there itself, is a way of being outside routine existence: People return home rejuvenated and inspired to seek ways to express the spirit of the festival in their everyday lives. For more than a decade, A. Leo Nash has been creating a photographic document of this work, and in his photographs we see the wellspring of a new art movement.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Every August people gather for one week in Nevada's Black Rock Desert to create and view curious, often fascinating artworks at the Burning Man Festival. For more than ten years, Californian photographer Nash (2010: The Return of Quetzalcoatl) has participated as an artist in this highly original event held in an otherwise bleak landscape and has documented its varied creations. His black-and-white images, especially the panoramic views against a backdrop of parched sand, capture the whimsy and imagination both of the artwork and the artists themselves. Daniel Pinchbeck (Breaking Open the Head) contributes an introduction that vividly sets the scene and explains the nature of the Burning Man. The photographs are then loosely organized into chapters that include "The Beginning," "Inspiration," "Road Trip," "Desert Rhythms," and "Exodus." Through each of these chapters, Nash provides a running commentary that helps to capture the spirit of the festival. At the very least, this is a fun book; at its best, it is a tribute to the liberating spirit of American art. Well designed and printed, it is highly recommended for all photography and art collections in public and academic libraries.
—Raymond Bial

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810992900
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 689,112
  • Product dimensions: 8.72 (w) x 11.88 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

A. Leo Nash is a photographer whose work has been widely exhibited. He is a creative participant at Burning Man and collaborates with the artists whose work he documents. He lives in Oakland, California.

Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. He lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Inconstancy of Art

    For those unfamiliar with BURNING MAN, the promotional material for this annual unique art event is described here: 'Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada's Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. ' Or in other places 'Art at Burning Man, like the experience of being there itself, is a way of being outside routine existence: People return home rejuvenated and inspired to seek ways to express the spirit of the festival in their everyday lives.' And as Wikipedia expands 'The event starts on the Monday before and ends on the day of the American Labor Day holiday. It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on Saturday evening. The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.' BURNING MAN: ART IN THE DESERT is as fine a documentation of this phenomenon as is available. The author is a photographer A. Leo Nash who with his funky photographic kinks has captured thirteen years of this week of art in the desert, and the results are exciting and rewarding.

    This well designed and produced book offers insights into this ritual. The art created for this event varies from construction of found objects to three-dimensional sculptures brought or transported to the site for the fellow artists (and growing public of art lovers) to 'experience'. There is something about the light of the desert that transforms this work, making the whole seem more important than its component parts. And much of that art is due to Nash's experimental photography that has become very much a part of this episodic, temporary contemporary art exhibition/happening. Reading or viewing this beautifully slipcovered memento will likely result in an increased audience for this very fresh and invigorating art. Some of the works in the BURNING MAN have included the 1908 "The End" by Bob Marzewski, a very impressive huge sculpture of stacked blocks that spell out THE END. But the variety of what is here in this book will definitely entertain the reader and give further credence to the idea that great art can be of the moment, then dismantled and moved on. BURNING MAN says more about our current way of experiencing life than perhaps the artists and even A. Leo Nash expected. It is well worth the attention of everyone who craves creativity, even transient creative works.

    Grady Harp

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