No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

Each year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, a city of more than 75,000 people rises out of the dust for a single week. During that time, enormous experimental art installations are erected and many are ritually burned to the ground. The thriving temporary metropolis known as Burning Man is a hotbed of artistic ingenuity, driving innovation through its principles of radical self-expression, decommodification, communal participation, and reverence for the handmade. Both a cultural movement and an annual event, Burning Man remains one of the most influential phenomenons in contemporary American art and culture.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man brings the large-scale, participatory work from this desert gathering to the nation’s capital for the first time. The exhibition takes over the entire Renwick Gallery building and surrounding neighborhood, bringing alive the maker culture and creative spirit of this cultural movement. The exhibition will stay until January 2019.

“‘No Spectators’ is a long-standing saying on Playa. You are encouraged to fully participate. It’s all about being there, being fully present, and not just observing. Two of the ten principles of Burning Man are radical participation and radial inclusivity, meaning that there are no outsiders. Everyone is part of the experience,” Nora Atkinson, Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft.

Immersive room-sized installations, costumes, jewelry, and ephemera transport visitors to the gathering’s famed “Playa,” while selected photographs and archival materials from the Nevada Museum of Art’s show City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man trace Burning Man’s growth and its bohemian roots.

Nora Atkinson, the museum’s Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, organized the exhibition in collaboration with Burning Man Project, the nonprofit organization responsible for producing the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City. The Burning Man community was instrumental in suggesting artworks for inclusion in the exhibition.

 

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