The Church Trap

church trap duncan rawlinson

Wedding at Church Trap, 2013. Image: Duncan Rawlinson/Flickr (Creative Commons)


This is a documentary produced, directed, shot and edited by John Senften @ Experience Media about Church Trap, one of the more clever art installations I’ve seen on the Playa.

Church Trap is a large-scale interactive art piece designed by artist Rebekah Waites that made its debut at the 2013 Burning Man festival. Church Trap combines the elements of a decaying church and a box trap. Tipped on its axis, a large wooden pole appears to be the only thing suspending it high up in the air. At the base of the pole is a rope waiting for participants to give it a tug and possibly collapse the church over unsuspecting victims inside.

However, if one dares to venture underneath the seemingly unstable structure, a world of visual and playful delights awaits the participant inside. At the stage the infamous antique pump church organ controlled the LED light installation piece designed by artist Jena Priebe acted as the visual bait that lured participants inside. Even before the Church Trap Crew completed Church Trap at Burning Man, crowd’s gathered and pushed their way inside to enjoy the sights and sounds. A phenomenal hit for Burning Man 2013, Church Trap has enjoyed being a part of numerous news sources as well as a featured piece in the 2014 3D IMAX film “From Sand To Ashes”.

At midnight on the Friday before the close of the festival, Church Trap was burnt to the ground. The Organ and Installation piece saved from a fiery end, they both live on in numerous art exhibits through out california. Most recently you can view and play with the organ at The Spring Arts Tower in Downtown Los Angeles until May of 2014.

Church Trap was more than just an installation art piece at Burning Man, it became a non stop performance piece and a labor of love for all who dared to enter. Even though the participants of Black Rock City did not physically build the piece, their interaction with the organ and pulpit added the finishing touch to the piece. For one week on the playa, Church Trap became the most interactive art piece. A non stop 24/7 roller coaster ride of performances, weddings, speeches, and musical performances.

2 comments on “The Church Trap

  1. Most clever and well-implemented large installation I’ve seen on the playa. And I wasn’t there that year, dammit.

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