Marco’s R-Evolution

truth-and-beauty-2013Marco Cochrane‘s amazing sculptures are built by hand, a combination of clay molding and spot welding. Bliss Dance is so strong that you could walk on her torso, and yet all the weight is concentrated on a single foot. Last year, Truth is Beauty debuted in all her glory, and was surely one of the most memorable art pieces of the year. If you went to Burning Man and took photos, but didn’t get one of this, I’d be amazed. The first time I went to check it out they gave me a bracelet to show supports for the sisters on the Playa – which was pretty special to me personally because my sister was flying in later that day for her first Burn.

Now Marco is creating the third installment in his Bliss Project series, R-Evolution. Support the project here. He has used the same model throughout the series, 6-foot tall Deja Solis. “Truth is beauty represents the moment of her accepting her truth: that she’s tall”, says Marco.

The Monterey County Weekly shares the back story to the series:

He found his model in the now-shuttered Blockbuster Video next to the Pacific Grove Trader Joe’s. And he let her, Monterey native Jamie Deja Solis, pick the poses for his pieces.

For “Truth Is Beauty,” she chose a stretching moment she remembered in front of the mirror, finally embracing the atypical height that had always made her self-conscious. “He asked me, ‘When did you truly feel beautiful?’” Solis says. “I was learning to self-love.”

At the base of the statue in Black Rock Desert, a single question written in hundreds of languages asked onlookers to consider a world where that kind of comfort, freedom and security were realized: “What would the world be like if all women were safe?” Safe to be themselves, to be open and affirming, to be beautiful.

“Women always tell me, ‘I’m safe,’” says Cochrane, now based in Mill Valley. “But can you walk down street and look a man in eye and smile?’ ‘No way,’ they say.”

They held talks and distributed 10,000 wristbands with a picture of the sculpture and the words, “We stand with you,” starting right there at Burning Man. There are no available stats on sexual assault on the playa, but anecdotes are all too easy to come by. And the reporting is complicated by the lack of rape kits to collect forensic evidence in Black Rock City.

“It was weirdly magical to meet so many folks,” Solis says. “Sometimes it was making a woman know she can be beautiful, that she didn’t need to force it. Other times it was telling her partner to stay present when she’s feeling open. Men often don’t allow the vulnerability to be open and truly share. They should be able to feel that and express it.”

Now an international tour is in the offing, with which Cochrane will continue asking people to look at body language more than body parts. “If you’re a man and you’re straight, you’ve been stunned by a woman before,” Cochrane says. “But there is a real person living in that body. Deja is a regular person. The statute is intended to be stunningly beautiful, to knock your socks off, but remind you there’s a real person there, and she’s safe.”

Maybe most stunning of all: That we need to be reminded one in three women has been sexually assaulted. But “Truth Is Beauty” also reminds us, even ugly truths can be stunningly beautiful.

There’s certainly a noble message behind Marco’s art, which is something you won’t find everywhere at the world’s biggest mutant art festival. For example, I’m thinking, the Arctic Boob Cooler I remember from 2004 was maybe towards the other end of the spectrum of nobility – yet also very popular and memorable.

For R-Evolution, Marco has created a 15-foot high clay sculpture of the piece from her lithe form.

If you like the art, support the project. Here’s some details from Marco:

How was Cargo Cult for you? 

Wow what a year we had!  With all of your help, we were able to raise enough money to complete Truth is Beauty and bring her to Burning Man in 2013.  We are so gratified by the response she received on the Playa – even we were amazed at how she looked from different angles, at different times a day, and OH! the light shows – 6 different shows thanks to Ka-Ping Yee, our uber-talented lighting engineer!!

We felt awe witnessing the impact on people as they read the inscription around her base: “What Would the World be Like if Women Were Safe?”  There was Playa magic when Truth is Beauty replaced the “I” in BELIEVE after it fell down in the pre-event windstorms and when she held a rainbow or the sun.  There were the hundreds of people who stopped us to tell us their own personal stories of how they were affected when they saw her, and thousands who wrote their feelings and opinions down in the books we provided.  We handed out nearly 10,000 “Together We Stand” wristbands, calling on those who wore them to take active responsibility for the safety of their sisters; each a unique opportunity for a personal connection and conversation.  It was such a success, we are working on how to bring this campaign to the wider world!

Thank you…Thank you…Thank You…for opening your hearts and minds to the messenger and the meaning!!

 What’s Next?

I have started work on R-Evolution, the third sculpture in the Bliss Project series.  I recently finished the 15 foot clay sculpture  – the first stage in the process – and plan to start the mold to cast the pieces from which the steel structure will be built in the next week or so.

Our plan is to debut her at Burning Man 2015.  Why not this year?  These sculptures take thousands of hours to build and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It simply cannot be done in one year.  So, we embark on another two-year build, but we really need your help because we not only need time, we need funds as well!  Through a combination of this campaign, grants and generous individual donors and foundations we hope to be able to raise all of the money we need this year to get R-Evolution where she needs to be so that we can complete her in time for her planned debut.

To meet our goal, we will need to have her torso and calves complete by August.  To do this, we need to be able to purchase the steel, and all of the ancillary welding materials as well as the rust-treatment on these pieces.  Of course we will also have to cover operating costs such as rent, utilities, insurance, certified welders, engineering and labor for those who will be working full-time.

What is R-Evolution?

Another collaboration with Deja Solis , R-Evolution is different than Bliss Dance and Truth is Beauty. There is no overt action in her expression; she is not dancing in the face of danger, she is not reaching to meet herself and find her own truth.  In R-Evolution, Deja explores and expresses what she feels like when she can just be…a whole person… a woman, radiating her energy into the world.  Of course, this won’t solve everything, but we think a world where women are free to just be is an essential first step.  It’s R-Evolution it’s…

                     What the world will be like when women are safe.

What was your inspiration for the Bliss Project Series?

The story of R-Evolution and The Bliss Project began when I was 7-years old and my best friend was a 9-year old little girl.  One day I was told, in way too much detail for a little boy, that she had been raped right outside of my house.  It was incomprehensible, horrible, I never forgot, I never understood…it still haunts me.  I thought…that man couldn’t have realized my friend was a person…if he really could see her, this wouldn’t have happened.

I grew up in the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s, in the philosophical revolution and turbulence of those times.  I learned to deeply appreciate feminine energy, influence and strength…and realized that the objectification of women imprisoned women and also men.  I also saw first-hand that one person, or a small group of people, can start a movement that can make a difference and change the course of history.

In my 20s I discovered sculpting, and in particular, the joy of seeing and then sculpting women; of the healing energy and power that I saw when women were not afraid…when they could be present, when they could be themselves, speak their minds…and the heroism it takes to do this in the face of real danger in their daily lives.  For more than 25 years I have been sculpting women.  At first glance, they appear to be classical figurative nudes, but they are not.  They are radically modern…revolutionary.  These women are safe, present. Look at them. They have chosen their own expression, so you will see the actual woman, the person, her energy and spirit.  It is my intent that these sculptures exude this healing energy and inspire us to take action; to finally say enough is enough.

What can Burners do to help?

Art can illuminate the human condition and be a catalyst to social change …My hope is to expand human consciousness and inspire men and women to take action to end violence against women, beginning a healing process that will make room for women’s voices, thus allowing all of us to live fully and thrive! I am asking you to stand with us!

Thank you to everyone for the incredible support you have provided in the past, and to everyone who is considering supporting R-Evolution. There is just no way projects like this could happen without you!

Donate now and spread the word. We have some great perks, including pendants, mini-sculptures  – 6 inch versions – experiences., etc.  Plus, everyone get’s a Together We Stand Wristband.  Check it out!

Visit Bliss Dance now on Treasure Island, San Francisco – even little babies who can’t speak yet love it.

Ticket Chaos: Vehicle Passes now $500+, Tickets $1500+ [Updates]

People Waiting In LineWant to go to Burning Man 2014, Caravansary? Well, sorry, you’re SOL. Today’s “Individual Sale”, of 38,000 tickets at $380 each, sold out in about 42 minutes (according to the Huffington Post), or perhaps 20 minutes (according to Burners). Many Burners report logging on at seconds or minutes after Noon PST when the sale began, trying for an hour, only to be told that there were no more tickets available. Other Burners logged in at the same time and had “no problems”, with the process taking about 20 minutes – which seems like a long time to complete a fairly basic e-commerce transaction, particularly given that they already had captured most of our details in the pre-registration.

scalping politicianTickets are now available on the secondary market, with individual tickets priced as high as $1545. As we predicted, Burning Man has created a whole new black market around vehicle passes, which are selling for more than $500. Expect these prices to drop closer to the event date, once insiders scalpers have exhausted the pool of suckers and are left holding a glut of tickets. Also, don’t be surprised if the population cap increases this year and there are more tickets issued, now that the growth-impeding issue of vehicles on the road has been neutralized.

Did Burning Man really sell 38,000 tickets in 20 minutes today? Or did they just say they did, with the expectation that they can keep selling tickets all year long through STEP? We’ll never know, but we do know for a fact that in the past they’ve claimed a sold out event and then attendance actually dropped from the previous year.

Here’s some of the viewpoints of Burners about the sale process:

Luke  I’m heartbroken my 2 best friends scored tickets. I didn’t and we all clicked the link at the same time. I gotta say even though I didn’t get lucky the process was heaps better than last year. Great work guys!

Monique I logged on at exactly noon and 24 minutes later was told no more tickets available at this time. Bummed.

Stacey  I was only able to buy one. Not two. My boyfriend did not get one. We are truly bummed

Scott Nice work! I got on right at 12 and had my tickets in ten minutes

Lynsey  Got tickets within 8 mins clicked on at one second past ! Excited to go home 

John I got tickets, but punched in exactly on time. I had two computers going, the other for a close friend. No dice with his  I know of others who punched in punctually but came up empty-handed. Luck of the draw…STILL, PLENTY of other opportunities and SALES to come!

So Not fantastic .. Got this “code not valid” with my confirmed code for about 10mins before getting a sale is closed  

Cassie I want tickets so bad.. How frustrating to wait in line and not get any for 1 hour. Now I’m on the search! I need 2 with 1 car camping pass.

Adam logged in right on time, had 2 tickets in cart, when I went to check out, would not take my credit card info – for THREE different cards. called my bank, they told me ticketfly was rejecting the charge, not the bank. 0 tickets. so frustrated.

Lawrence  They double charged my account, then the sale didn’t go through. Missing 900$ from my account and have no tickets.

Farrah My entire camp secured tickets within the first 20 minutes. Very smooth and so much better than last year. Super excited to be in the official planning phase again!

Robert Well, I clicked on within a few seconds of noon, waited over a half hour till my turn came only to be told all tickets were already in shopping carts. Oh well, went 14 times, perhaps time to try something else this year.

Soleo Horrible! Servers crashed, half of my camp(long time burners) all sitting waiting since exactly 12:00 didn’t get tickets and already see tuns of tickets all over stubhub and ebay.

Jen  Nooooooooo. Screen refreshed for 54 minutes and I didn’t get my ticket. So unbelievably disappointed

Liz Got tickets it was a breeze. Last year I was online for 4 hours to get a ticket.

Kevin Got on at 12:04. told to not refresh for 45 minutes, then told to refresh every 15 seconds. got shut out. I’d like to think that 38,000 people were in front of me and that it was not computer error….oh well hello STEP!

Megan Submitted payment and everything but never got confirmation and money wasn’t taken from bank acct 

Nicolette No tickets. Sat in the ‘auto 30 sec refresh’ for an hour until I got a message that said no more tickets available. Most of the people I know did not get tickets.

Justin I was in line & all registered when i got kicked off.. went back to the site with code to find that all tickets were sold out! This new system (ticketfly) was a terrible idea to try to handle all of the ticket influx! Next time use a system that worked properly.

Blues Bob It sucked. An hour in line and all I got was the “sold-out” message”. I’ll try other avenues, but I hate the unpredictability of not having one. It’s fucked planning for a trip you’re uncertain you’re actually taking. And this was going to be my last year for awhile.

Simon No joy here, I’m just stuck with “We’re currently processing a high volume of orders” in a loop that goes round and round forever, for the last 17 minutes.

Holly I have 9 withdrawals from account of 399.00 for individual tickets starting at 301 pm transaction 2nd approved by bank then ticket fly kicked back I called them they say banks fault no they put money right back ticket fly blamed bank then burning man …. I can’t even begin to tell u how upset I am … After money being held by ticket fly for 22 minutes then getting look for confirmation email from us in 2 minutes or try again …. no email try again and same bs …. I held back in 2011 to give others chance to go and 2012 for personal reasons to deal with this …. I just want to know why the fuck it happened that I didn’t score a ticket when money was withdrawn and I have proof at 301 pm … wow

Sergent Pepper it was 34 minutes…22000 still in queue too. Just heard a news report about it

Seems like Ticketfly is maybe not so fly after all.

Last year we helped Burners deal with this with our story “Help! I Didn’t Get a Ticket – 7 Ways You Can Still Go”. Most of the information still applies. We don’t know yet when STEP opens, but the dates for the OMG sale are:

Thursday, July 31, 2014 12pm (noon) PDT: OMG Sale ($380) registration begins
Monday, August 4, 2014 12pm (noon) PDT: OMG Sale ($380) registration closes
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12pm (noon) PDT: OMG Sale ($380) starts

(source: official Burning Man site).

[Updated 2/26/14 5:03pm]

So far 61,000 tickets have been sold (or reserved to be sold). Many tickets are gifted to volunteers and regionals. The 2013 Special Recreation Permit specified a maximum population of 68,000. According to Wikipedia, that’s exactly how many were there last year, no more, no less. Burning Man themselves disclosed the number as 69,613. The 4-year environmental assessment supported a population of 70,000. Bottom line: there are more tickets out there. In the past, the longer you waited, the less you paid – our prediction is that this year’s pattern will be the same.

Thanks to Burner Art LAescapist for this image – looks like some sucker paid $5000 for a ticket. Probably a stolen credit card!

5000 ticket

Sheriff Reserves Right to Protect Kids

Guy Farmer of Carson City is a long-time critic of Burning Man. Recently in Nevada Appeal – the Lahontan Valley news – he shared his opinion about Burning Man’s “staring contest” with Pershing County.

Although both behemoth bureaucracy Black Rock City, LLC (aka BMOrg) and little-‘ole gun-totin’ Pershing County recently reached an agreement out of court, two local Judges (Jones and Wagner) and the District Attorney still think that the party, with all of its sex acts and drug use, is not a suitable place for young children.

A complex legal battle between Black Rock City, LLC, the powerful Bay Area entity that operates Burning Man, and sparsely populated Pershing County has ended in a judicial standoff in federal court. But if this dispute was a boxing match, I’d give the decision to Pershing County on points.

It was a David (a small rural county) vs. Goliath (Burning Man) battle from the beginning. The Burners sued the county last year, claiming that local authorities had no jurisdiction over the annual naked drug festival, which is held on federal land near Gerlach, about 90 miles north of Reno. The Burners objected to additional charges for law enforcement expenses and claimed the county couldn’t regulate their behavior on a remote desert playa in a national conservation area.

At the time he filed a countersuit against the Burners, Pershing County District Attorney Jim Shirley told me that “public servants shouldn’t back down just because a large multimillion-dollar corporation wants to bully us into not following the law.” The corporation, which grosses more than $20 million a year from Burning Man, opposed a modest increase in law enforcement expenses proposed by Shirley and the county, and rejected suggestions that the county could bar underaged children from the X-rated event. As an aside, it’s relevant to note that the festival’s federal landlord, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), rakes in more than $1 million per year from the Burners.

As an aside, the event is not X-rated. First of all, that’s a voluntary rating applied to films by the movie industry. Secondly, it hasn’t existed since 1990. It’s also worth mentioning that the event currently pays more like $2 million to the Feds and other authorities.

Although Black Rock City unleashed hundreds of highly paid attorneys in the battle against Shirley and the county, both sides eventually reached an out-of-court settlement that gave the county most of what it wanted, starting with increased law enforcement expenses.

It was all about the money. Not freedom of speech and expression, not nudity and over-exposure to a Bacchanalian revel for thousands of underage Burners.

bondageAlthough Federal District Judge Robert C. Jones criticized the settlement, calling it “illegal, unenforceable and absurd,” he acknowledged that he lacks jurisdiction to void the contract and repeated his concerns about exposing children to public nudity at the annual festival.

The county’s concerns do not center on nudity, but rather on the blatant sexual conduct and the (illegal) drugs at the event,” Shirley told me in a recent email exchange. “The (Pershing County) sheriff still has all his rights to enforce Nevada law relating to children.” I sincerely hope the sheriff will exercise that authority when the 2014 edition of Burning Man rolls around in early September.

I’ve repeatedly objected to the presence of young children at the festival based on my own experience during a daylong visit to the event in 2008. That’s when I saw a naked middle-aged man cavorting dangerously near the area reserved for children. This occurred after several child molesters had been arrested at Burning Man in recent years.

rooster-art-car-burning-manWe told you about a pedophile who got busted, and was found to have made plans to attend Burning Man for a kidnapping. One of America’s Most Wanted is kite enthusiast Thomas Hanley, a child molester known to frequent Burning Man – a perfect place for someone who’s on the run, since no-one would think twice if they wear a mask.

We don’t know about any other arrests for this, but there are definitely registered sex offenders at Burning Man – and the presence of nubile, scantily clad teens is surely a case of statutory rape waiting to happen (age of consent in Nevada is 16 for straight sex and 18 for gay/bi).

My criticism has always been based on the widespread use of illegal drugs (not just marijuana) on public lands, and the highly inappropriate presence of children at an event featuring pornographic “art” and public performances. For example, there was the mechanized depiction of sodomy at the Jiffy Lube Camp a few years ago. You get the idea.

ROPEDThe issue is not just nudity. It’s tens of thousands of sexual freaks in a place where almost everyone is partying out of control for a week, on every kind of drug you can imagine, including Viagra. There are fetishes, polyamory, bondage, all kinds of freakery – and it could be going on anywhere. Last year I met some burgins whose first act at Burning Man was to slide down a rat’s ass into an art car – filled with gay guys tied to the wall wearing ball gags! They just thought they were going on a cool slide, boy did they get a shock.

Mr Farmer concludes that it’s all about the money:

A Reno newspaper recently estimated that Burning Man generates some $35 million worth of economic activity in Northern Nevada, and Reno Mayor Bob Cashell has warned Pershing County not to interfere with that sizeable cash flow. BLM remains silent on the issue. In other words, collect the money and forget about the children. My hope, however, is that Pershing County will exercise its authority to regulate public conduct at Burning Man, and that the more enlightened Burners will finally decide to leave the little kids at home, where they belong.

Make Burning Man an over 21 event, and suddenly the “sting” goes out of it. There’s no danger of statutory rape, and no need for any camps to check IDs. Leave your wallet at home when you go to Burning Man, showing a drivers license to be gifted a shot defeats the purpose of “Decommodification”.

[Update: this article has generated a few comments on the Interwebz. We should remember the effects of Playa Dust on young lungs. The Scumfrog expressed it very well:

The more arguments you give to defend children’s presence at BM, the more I completely fail to see the point of ever bringing your child there. Let’s face it; if you strip away the drugs and the loud music and the open playa and the radical self expression; you might as well go to an outside art exhibit in the real world, topped off by an hour on the trampoline, and of course doing all of this while the kids are wearing their favorite costumes. You don’t need to be at Burning Man for that. In short; a good parent makes sure that their kid’s life is like BM every day of the year. Because kids can live like that. Adults need to escape to this special annual event to act like kids one week a year, but kids can act this way year round! Bringing your kids to BM is like opening a Starbucks inside a Starbucks. There is no need for it whatsoever. The only need is the need for the parents to proclaim their extreme liberalism to the outside world. There is not a single lesson that an 8 year old can only learn at BM and not anywhere else in the world. Those special lessons that the playa provides are life lessons for adults. WE benefit from BM in that way, but for kids, it’s all just a playground.