(This is a rare treat for y’all. Nuvoletta, the creative genius behind what you’ve seen at DiSORIENT events for the last couple of years, agreed to pull back the pornj curtain and give us some insight on how one of the most recognizable camps at Burning Man makes it happen, on and off playa. Plus she included some of her favorite mixes from over the years, so what’s not to like? If you’re chomping at the bit for more DiSORIENT in your life, check out their weekend away, Country Club, in its sixth stunning year, May 27-30.)
By Terry Gotham
1. What’s on tap for DiSORIENT for 2016? Is it just me or has DiS taken a step back this season?
It’s a busy time, we are moving forward, sideways and inward. We just wrapped Bedouin Tech, the third year of our experiment in Dubai. On playa this year, we will be building our Teatro di Sorient a Disoriented opera house.. We work on our playa projects with a team spread out across the world. It’s a busy time internally.
If it seems like we have taken a step back in NYC, it is because we are evolving with the changing landscape. The old style of the same themed predictable events concretely on the calendar is fading away. We have some exciting new plans for 2016. It feels like the right move for us. People are capitalizing on the burner world, creating faux-burner production companies making profit by hosting faded facsimile copy of burning man art fundraisers. They use burner visual tropes and language for their promotion. The landscape in NYC is currently warped by these people commodifying it.
2. How does DiSORIENT run? Is the leadership based out of NYC or are you constantly coping with video chat across the country/globe?
We use a cell/module system. Anyone can propose any idea and if they attract enough people to their idea, they form a Disorient cell. We have some classic cells, sound, lighting, projection, etc. These cells participate in Disorient modules. A module can be a fundraiser, and art car, and so on.
The Disorient model is how we propagate worldwide. We have cells and modules throughout the United States and abroad. Absolutely- Video chats and emails are a constant as well as spreadsheets and phone calls. We have many smaller groups within Disorient, people get together for dinner, tecates and bubbles. We detail our system at http://wiki.disorient.info/index.php?title=Disorient_Model
3. For the uninitiated how long has DiSORIENT been an esplanade-level camp, and how did it get started?
We’ve been on the esplanade since 2001, with the exception of 2004 and 2008. We first started having big sound in 2002, leading to 2004 when we moved off the esplanade to try the large soundcamp sector. Disorient co-founder The Bass oversaw sound and music from 2002-2011. In 2008, we moved inward into the city as we needed to regroup. We like moving around the esplanade to keep things fresh.
The genesis of Disorient was the light art of Leo Villareal’s early years at the burn, starting in 1994. From there, the early people of Disorient found each other and began the journey we now share together. For anyone wanting to see the evolution over the years, we keep a wiki chronicling our progress as a camp at http://wiki.disorient.info/index.php?title=Camp
4. Are you treated badly by the NYC/Dubai nightlife universe because you’re a woman at the helm of one of the most influential BM camps?
Disorient has a wonderful history of strong female leadership. Around the globe, the leadership is distributed throughout many cells. Sure, I’ve experienced it, but I pay little heed to misogynistic attitudes. Gender doesn’t factor into how we make art, how we execute our fundraisers and how we burn. We won’t be involved with venues, vendors or anyone who feels the need to exhibit caveman nonsense.
5. How do you balance innovation with aesthetic consistency & providing a safe environment for anyone who may find their way to your events?
Safety isn’t a part of our artistic balance, it’s separate and the absolute top priority. Radical inclusion means it is possible to encounter people who aren’t educated in the consent culture of the burning man ethos. Our Pornj Guard cell acts as watchmen and mediators at all of our events as the first line of contact when needed.
As an art collective, balancing innovation and aesthetic consistency is something we try not to control, but rather practice constant exploration to see “what more is out there”. Artistically we are on a mission to go deeper. It’s an obsession. We have a phrase “too much is rarely enough”. The pulse of Disorient is a living breathing pixilated idea constantly striving to live “on the edge of the fractal”.
6. DiSORIENT has been a mainstay in NYC for years but seems to be fading in the face of VIP-infused/up-market offerings in NYC. Is that a conscious choice/response to the commodification of the dance floor?
Fading is one way to look at it, in reality we are shifting to another dimension away from this current landscape of newly formed commercial interests profiting off the burning man aesthetic. Commodifying the burner dance floor is something we choose not to participate in.
We are interested in acculturation. We find our three day events such as Bedouin Tech and Country club a better way to share burner values than a raging night in a warehouse. As a burner art collective, for us, the move at the moment is to gather inward, return to our sources of inspiration and make dope art.
7. Is art direction for DiSORIENT a full time job? If not, how do you & your cohort make ends meet?
Dayjobs for the win. All of us. We are simply a large burner camp, we aren’t taking a cut of fundraising profits. All of us sweat hard to get our camp to playa. Those who are attracted to the “Glamour” of Disorient quickly find we have little time for sparkleponies. Everyone gets dusty, everyone works, period. When people buy a ticket to our Disorient events, they aren’t paying someone’s NYC rent or buying someone a vacation. All of our money goes towards art, 100%.
8. What do you listen to when you’re not wearing a Pornj hat?
House music is unquestionably part of the pornj hat, working on graphic design or getting physical with the Disorient crew is always blessed when in 4/4. For regular life, mornings usually involve relaxing eastern influenced music, sometimes funk depending on how hard I need to go. I do classical in the daytime, right now I am obsessed with Barbara Hannigan and Joyce DiDonato. I wind down with bossa nova or Motown era soul. The cocktail hour is a respected institution in the Good/Nuvoletta household. I can’t ever be sick of The Undisputed Truth, Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker puts me to bed.
9. How do you join DiSORIENT these days?
It’s as easy and transparent as it’s always been, show up and sweat with us. Our next event is Country Club May 27th, Memorial Day Weekend. We have been growing steadily each year, with more music, art and theme camps. We go out for a whole week for setup, event and disengage. It is a great way to get a general feel for how Disorient operates on playa. We prototype some playa concepts and also create large scale art. New artists are always welcome to join the collective.
10. Favorite moment of the 2015 Burn?
Dancing up the sun with the Disorient family and new friends atop Teatro di Sorient. Come join us this year, we made ladders for you. <3