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Burning Man 2022: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” from “Home” to “Secretly Abandoned Spaces” While “On Fire”

September 14, 2022

 

Burning Man 2022: Secretly Abandoned Spaces by Valerie Mallory as photographed by Elain Prager

For the Chumash, the people who lived here first along the Ventura County coast, who lived here near where Ventura College is today in a village named Shishilop, and who live in the region today, autumn is the new year: it’s the time of harvest, the closure and finish of one cycle and the beginning of the next. 

For people who go to Burning Man, the night the Man burns on the first Saturday of September during Labor Day weekend it’s the start of a new year as well. 

And so the school year, which starts up each fall, is a new beginning, a fresh start, a new year.

I like to start off each semester with a book by Dr Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!  which first came out in 1990, and quickly became a beloved best seller. The narrative takes the reader on a journey through life — the good and the bad, the challenges and the pleasures. While recognizably a book by Dr Seuss from the writing and illustrative style, it’s  different also: it’s written in second person and in future tense. 

You probably already know this Dr Seuss book– but do you know this version of it?

 

I like to start each semester asking where are we going? Where will we go? How will we get there?

So as you watch the video, take those questions to heart, and after watching it, take a few minutes to freewrite from the heart– don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar, just spill some words onto the page. 

Now that we’ve thought about where we want to go, let’s consider HOME– the one where we came from, and the one where we feel is home. Where are we adventuring off FROM? And where do we return? What is home? Many people who go to Burning Man, no matter where they live run the world, consider Black Rock City their home. 

 

Sometimes, as we make our journey through like, there may even be some “Secretly Abandoned Spaces…” These can be interior or exterior, real or imagined. 

“Every abandoned space retains a feeling of what it once was,” writes Valerie Mallory. “Abandoned buildings retain a beauty of that which has been forsaken; it’s the loveliness of disintegration. This piece is about the beauty of loss and decay of a building, a community or of a loved one. Elegance emerges from loss as the world takes back its own. The house becomes a church of ideas that have died and long passed. The cast figures upon the staircase is a theatre, or a play. The interplay of figures tell their own stories. The figures will also be ornate as structures of antiquity. Secretly Abandoned Spaces is a museum of stories that have been lost in antiquity.”

Artist Valerie Mallory with her Burning Man honorarium art project pointing to a casting of her own face.

Learn more about Secretly Abandoned Spaces here. Support the project’s GoFundMe here.

Often as we learn and grow and develop, we must abandon spaces, some physical, some mental, sometimes secretly, sometimes publicly, like though writing or a presentation. What are some spaces –places or ideas– you’ve abandoned? 

 

This final video, also put together by Stefan Spins who did “Home,”  asks: “What does it mean to you to be on fire?” What fires you up? 

What have we been learning? And learning from? 

I invite you to take the words of this video to heart and dance with me in the new year. 

Because I want “the whole damn world” to come dance with me. Let’s take our time on this planet and do something special with it. 

Learn more about Burning Man and the 10 Principles that guide citizens here but checking out this Coloring Book!.

 

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