Temple of Decent Dance?

2014’s Temple will be known as “The Temple of Descendants”. They are keeping the design a secret until we all see it on the Playa, but you can catch a glimpse of the concept here (if you agree not to reproduce the image).

trees temple 2014

these tree images by Paul Kozal inspired the longhouse design

The Honorarium Grant does not cover the construction cost of the Temple (not even close), so Burners are asked to donate to the project to make this happen. The rest of the 2014 Honorarium grants will be announced “soon”.

From temple2014.net:

Metlakatla_03My own thoughts on this year’s temple started with experiences within trees and impressions of the space made by trees…If you need a place to let something go, to consider the events of your life and move on, console friends, share your thoughts or to make a commitment to another person……this temple is for you.

An Honorarium Art Grant from Burning Man only provides for a portion of what it takes to create of the piece. Thousands of hours by volunteers form the work, but a significant amount of funds must be raised from those who understand what these temples can do. This Temple needs your help now. We are designing, engineering, building mock ups, starting the pre-build…… and quite simply, the Honorarium Art Grant is not sufficient to make this happen. This place is important, and we need your help.

Ross Asselstine is both a member of The Temple Crew and submitted the design for the Temple this year. After numerous years of supporting artists on the playa going all the way back to the Temple of Joy in 2002 by David Best, this past year and a half he attempted to design a suitable place and space for the community of Burning Man. His background is in architecture, work in the trades, high-rise construction as well as messing around with all the woodworking tools, paint and crafts materials in the basement of the home where he grew up in Minnesota.The Temple Crew has worked in support of the Temples of David Best and others both on and off the playa. They are a dedicated group of volunteers that over the course of fourteen years have worked to make a difference: both during the process of construction, during the event, at the burn of the piece, cleanup and the time between projects. It is best explained here:www.thetemplecrew.org
As you may be aware, the event each year has a theme that participants may elect to join as a way to connect with others.This year the theme at Burning Man is “Caravansary”. For this project, the connection could be:

They had heard stories of the gatherings, the structures and other wonders over the horizon but never had more of a drawing than what could be traced with a stick in the sand. They listened to the story, took in the enthusiasm of the storyteller and became part of a caravan of adventure. It was arduous and they moved along a line, joined together, as one long string of imagination. As they traveled, they moved through lands of great people and came upon the structures they had heard about: places built for emotions.We arrive and it is here. They built it. Was this space built for their needs or did they also build it for us as their descendants?We rest, consider and mark the events of our lives and then……..we let everything go into the sky.What will become of our community’s descendants? What will we create and leave for them; are they with us now?

The idea of constructing this to consider our descendants, when we are going to burn it to nothingness after a week of partying, seems rather bizarre to me. “Consider our descendants, by building something we use only for ourselves then destroy so that they will never see”. Sure, one day our descendants might search for photos of this temporary structure on Google Images…only to find they can’t use the photos their grandparents took to commemorate the occasion, as BMOrg owns them for all time.

The essence of this year’s Temple design is a longhouse, with a line of the floor which becomes a giant altar, so many Burners can worship at once – whatever chaotic form of drug-fuelled worship that may be. The structure seems more “Vikings” than “camels”.

longhouse 2Our community is large, diverse and at times needs places to express, release and receive emotion. The temple is one location; it should attempt to provide a place for thousands of experiences. There is grieving. There is recognition. Some take the time to make a commitment to one person. Many people go to the temple to be deliberately and profoundly alone within a very crowded place; they are there not for interaction but simply to be within their community, by themselves.

This design started with the idea that a single line could be the focus for our energy. A great long altar on that line would accommodate our increasing numbers. A longhouse formed on that line and over the altar. Overhead is an element that will provide the community a neutral mental canvas as if lying on our backs and gazing at stars, clouds or under a great cover of leaves. The exterior surfaces, elements and details represent an equally important place.The longhouse is one of the earliest forms of enclosed community space. Its form was first developed by pre- and post-nomadic societies all over the world, in advance of organized religions. Some objects do not project any creed, dogma or image that represents just one view or point of reference; this piece can hold many perspectives.  long house indianI considered the simple shape of a longhouse to be a universal image of a place for a tribe to gather.
This longhouse design is scaled up to the needs of our community. Light filters into and out of the sanctuary through a permeable skin suited to the desert. A central altar approximately forty feet long runs down the axis and will accommodate a great number of emotional artifacts. There will be two long rows of internal private niches between the structural bays along the entire length of each side. These small spaces are sized for individuals to have a quiet moment by themselves, or with just a few people. A large art piece of neutral or ambient elements will hang for almost the entire length of the building while the centerline of the roof is open to the sun and stars. Outside the temple there will be places for emotional artifacts as well as two dedicated places specifically designed for commitment ceremonies. 
A perimeter fence for passage will require you to enter the space on the ground, and also provides shade for members that want to sit at a distance.

For now, they’re keeping further details of the design under wraps:

Old_Batak_village_long_houseWe intend to hold back the design and construction images of this year’s temple until you are able to discover it, in place, on the playa.

As many of you have likely experienced on the playa, it can be much more powerful to come up on an art piece or event when you have no image of before it is in front of you. Sometimes it is staggering and sometimes it is the smallest part of a detail. Maybe you did not have a camera and had to describe it to your friends when you returned to camp; you could tell a story and draw in the dust, but no number words to really describe it, as it was an experience. As your story trails off, you pause and say: “Aurgh! I shouldn’t have even tried to explain it……you’ll just have to go experience it for yourself!”

As I sketched and modeled this temple over the last year and a half I thought constantly about the difference between my tools to develop the design and the individual participant’s experience. These are two very different processes and it needed to be carefully considered. Tools to design can easily become tools of presentation that dilute the actual experience. I recognize that some members of the community want their first impression to be on the playa such that they “stop looking at anything Burning Man” from about January of each year. Others have a strong need to know something more or have something in hand, as they are already planning to use the Temple in some special way this year. An image of a small portion of the surface is in the pdf below. If you elect to download this image we request that you respect the numerous other members of the community that have elected to save their experience until later. 

7 comments on “Temple of Decent Dance?

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  4. personally i think the art cars are the thing that really makes the party unique, and hard to replicate. I don’t see too many Millenials making those.

  5. the LLC/Non-profit/org should be paying for this (and much more) projects cost.

    considering that it appears that nothing can go in that spot without the blessing of the HQ it seems a huge load of bullshit that they only give a stipend for what is a big draw, a cornerstone of the event and which wouldnt be all that difficult for them to pay for.

    the temple came about quite a bit later in the history of the burn, but it started out as a participant run thing, which the org/llc picked up and ran with….. yet never fully took on the cost of ownership…..in contrast to the lantern/lamplighter project, which started as a participant run thing, which the org picked up on and began fully funding as an important part of the ritual and look of the event..

    the LLC/non-profit/org should be paying for a lot more of the art and camps out there. because, you know, people deserve to get paid for their work.. .. its clear that when many people dont agree and shout out “THATS NOT WHY I DO IT, YOU DONT UNDERSTAND BURNING MAN” that the kool-aid has been passed around…. and the non-profit confusion will certainly make those voices more ardent..


    is there a better way to make sure that artists can keep bringing art back than.. PAYING THEM? …….. oh yeah, there is…… asking hapless rubes that feel like throwing money at a project is ‘participation’ to cover the costs!

    • The purity of dogmatic denial is compelling, but best left to the newbies and wannabes. Note how the BOrg does all it can to have new “burners,” short of excluding the main recurring camps. Look at the attendance records. They are banking on a never-ending supply of newbies to keep the denial going. They don’t care that people steal bikes, camp art and supplies left and right, as long as the ticket sales keep up. The LAST thing they need are us Old Burners.

      But you are right: it all hangs on the art. If the BOrg loses the artists, the Burn is DOA. But either way, the LLC BoD is laughing all the way to the bank.

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