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Burning Man: Rites of Passage Theme 2011

September 6, 2010

As this year’s Temple burns, and my tears flow, I am, appropriately enough, putting the finishing touches on this post about the 2011 theme “Rites of Passage.”

Of course I am watching the Temple burn on the Ustream Channel (not in person) and listening to BMIR. Moments earlier, as my 6 year old son and I watched together, we talked about my mom, and what we miss, and how much we wish we were there right now at the Temple burn…(I love my son so much! he shared  such a special bond with my mom…going to the library together, reading books…she would give him “spice” candies aka Tic Tacs. He told me tonight while we watched the Temple Burn that he has a few from the last container she gave him and that he’s saving them to have for when he really misses her…)

Last year at Burning Man, it didn’t take long for the rumor to spread that the 2010 theme for Burning Man would be “Metropolis.” There was a lot of griping amongst the ranks along the lines of “but that’s what I’m escaping!”

What we are doing at Burning Man, I would argue, is creating a new kind of Metropolis, and focusing on that provided an opportunity to explore not only the theme of the city but what it means to be a city. Black Rock City is a new kind of Metropolis. I thought the theme was exciting and I would have loved to have been out there to see how it was expressed. Instead, I’ll patiently wait to see the images and pass them on in blog posts here along with any stories I catch. (Subscribe! By email or RSS feed and keep up with what’s up!)

“Rites of Passage” for 2011’s Burning Man theme seems a natural progression. What makes a city more than a collection of people and buildings in one place? Rituals: rites of passage.

Each year, the new theme is announced after the Man burns to give people a chance to talk together while on the Playa, to be inspired and to conspire about the theme. Burner friends are already starting discussions on facebook about art projects related to the theme. Information and a key image or two goes up on the front page of the Burning Man website soon after the Man burns. Here’s a few excerpts from the Art Theme page:

On the sixth day of the event, participants encircle Burning Man to witness its destruction… People do this with the reassurance that another Man, an always slightly different Man, will rise anew. At the the end of the event, thousands silently surround a temple dedicated to that strangest and most fearful change of all: the loss of loved ones and our ultimate departure from the world. From first to last, Burning Man has always been a rite of passage.

Our theme this year invites participants to join with others in creating rites of passage. The content of these rites may be as various as life itself. Whether such performances are ludicrous or solemn, their aim is to remove us from the context and the cares of daily life, confront us with our vital need to be, and then return us to the fellowship of a society.

This year the Burning Man will perch atop two pinnacles divided by a chasm… Participants ascending ladders in this monument will inhabit a sheer slice of nothing at its core, while high above them Burning Man engages in a delicate high wire act.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 11:36 pm

    This year the burning of the man was obscured by a massive dust storm – not sure if you watched on UStream. You were probably much more comfortable than I was out in that desert, but if you haven’t been in a few years, it’s worth another try. Bring your son!

  2. September 9, 2010 1:00 am

    I did watch the Man Burn on Ustream. It looked calm enough until about the time He fell and then my thought was the heat of the blaze stirred up the wind. We were indeed comfortable at home but that doesn’t replace being there like we were in 05, 07 and 09 with our son and from 95-2002, and in 92 (my first burn!).

    Hope to see you out there next year! We will probably be in Kidsville again.


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