The Anti-Burning Man

The New York Times has a story about the Bombay Beach Bienalle at the Salton Sea in California.

They just had the first one, seems like it was a hit. Art, opera, and weirdness: sign me up.

The Times have coined it the Anti-Burning Man.

Last weekend, a mostly abandoned town on the Salton Sea was transformed into a pageantry of art and opera and weirdness.

The three-day Bombay Beach Biennale was free to attend, unpublicized and driven by a mission of local engagement.

Call it the anti-Burning Man.

The idea came from Tao Ruspoli, a Los Angeles filmmaker, who years ago became fascinated by the Salton Sea, a onetime tourist mecca straddling the Imperial and Coachella Valleys that has succumbed to environmental decay.

He started visiting often and even bought a house in Bombay Beach, a speck of a town on the eastern shore.

“This idea of Bombay Beach Biennale popped in my head because rather than play up the sadness of the place,” he said, “I thought it would be more interesting to play on the surrealness of the place…It’s such a mixture of contradictions, of natural and unnatural, of beautiful and ugly.”

[Source]

Forget Leave No Trace. These artists want to leave it better:

Mr. Ruspoli partnered with two friends, Stefan Ashkenazy, an art lover and hotelier, and Lily Johnson White, a philanthropist and member of the Johnson & Johnson family.

Last year, the trio self-funded the inaugural festival, under the theme “Decay,” and invited artists, philosophers, writers and other assorted merrymakers from their network of friends to join. It was a hit.

But rather than simply clear out once the fun was over, the festival has aimed to reinvent some of the abandoned buildings in town as permanent art spaces.

“The ethos is to be playful but also leave a lasting impact to the town,” Mr. Ruspoli said.

[Source]

The Johnson (and Johnson) family are full of interesting characters, to put it mildly.

crazy rich

Stefan Ashkenazy is the owner of La Petit Ermitage, one of the commercial hotels doing pop-ups at Burning Man VIP camps.

petit ermitage

And as for the third player in this trinity, the description of “film maker” doesn’t quite do him justice:
Tao Ruspoli is an Italian American filmmaker, photographer, and musician. Ruspoli is the second son of occasional actor and aristocrat Prince Alessandro Ruspoli, 9th Prince of Cerveteri and Austrian-American actress Debra Berger. He is the older brother of Bartolomeo dei Principi Ruspoli, second husband of oil heiress Aileen Getty.
A prince(ling), whose sister-in-law is a Getty. No big deal. Oh and he got engaged to Olivia Wilde at Burning Man and married her at 18 on a school bus
olivia wilde tron
The Salton Sea is a seriously trippy place.

This year the Biennale theme was The Way The Future Used To Be. There were more than 100 artists and performers, with attendance “in the hundreds rather than thousands”.

Carmiel Banasky in LA Weekly described the psychedelic space station and other accoutrements:

My first stop at the fest was a Mad Hatter-esque tea party, where cake pops (made by a local family), joints and edibles were passed around while fairy women made bondage art in the branches. Along the beach was a lifeguard stand turned into a psychedelic space station. Colorful smoke bombs set off at sunset through large sea creature cut-outs asked us to remember where we were, while the outdoor bar next door (tended by men in yellow bikini briefs) asked us to forget it.

Read the full story at the New York Times

Read the LA Weekly Story

See more photos on Instagram

An art installation on the sand at Bombay Beach. Credit: Jennifer Wiley
Photo

Artists explored the surreal setting of the decaying Salton Sea. Credit: Laura Austin
Photo

Men in yellow bikini briefs tended a bar at the Bombay Beach Club. Credit: James Frank
Films were screened at a drive-in theater featuring the shells of broken-down cars. Credit: James Frank
A performance at the Bombay Beach Opera House featured dancers from the San Francisco Ballet. Credit: James Frank

Welcome to Burner Burns

Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It’s getting harder and harder for everyone to make it out to the annual Black Rock City burn. Most camps got a reduced allocation in this year’s Directed Group Sale, which means there will be unprecedented competition for tickets in the Main Sale. Even the triple-priced VIP tickets sold out in less than 24 hours – although there are quite believable rumors on Reddit that they are still being sold, which will further reduce the number of Main Sale tickets.

70,000 Burners might attend this year, but there are now about 700,000 former Burners in the world – so 90%+ of Burners miss out every year.

“The future is in the Regionals!”, say some – but the jury’s still out on that. The one Regional that I’ve visited so far, was nothing like Burning Man, and not even remotely as good as other festivals in the region.

With that in mind, I finally thought of a straight-forward way to implement something that Nomad Traveler and others have been suggesting for a while. If you look at the tab of pages running along the screen, under the header photo, you will notice a new one: Burner Burns. This is a place where collectively, with the magical powers of crowd-sourcing, we may be able to put together a list of alternatives to Burning Man.

Please go to the page and add your favorite events in the comments, I will cut and paste them into the page. We’ll see if enough people contribute for this to become something useful.

 

What Your Favorite Music Festival Says About You

novum crafts headdresses

Noisey, Vice’s music division, has an amusing look at the different subcultures attached to various festivals. Of course “it’s not a fucking festival” Burning Man gets a mention:

BURNING MAN

You’re having a mid-life crisis, so you decide to leave the materialistic life you lead as a computer programmer behind and split a thousand dollar trailer (with wifi and air conditioning) with some people who will forever be referred to as your “Burning Man Friends.” You buy a vintage top hat and goggles for the affair, you’ve built a sweet art car for cruising the Playa, and you have a friend named Rainbow who is bringing acid from Mexico. Even though you own a Canon EOS Rebel camera, you use a disposable camera to capture the grittiness that IS Burning Man, and you and your fellow Burners use them as #tbts every Thursday for an entire year.

Burners be like “yeah right, acid doesn’t come from Mexico!”

Some other highlights:

COACHELLA

Your dumb friend bought tickets to weekend one instead of weekend two AND RUINED EVERYTHING, so you’ve spent months trying to make the swap. You’re LITERALLY starving yourself to fit into the Free People romper you bought specifically for this occasion—or you’ve spent months doing dumbell bicep curls, barbell bicep curls, hammer bicep curls, and cable bicep curls to fill out that neon Urban tank (SUN’S OUT GUNS OUT, BABY!)—and tell everyone how stoked you are to finally see alt-J. None of your friends knows who alt-J is, and you feel really hip. Hip like a hipster!

OUTSIDE LANDS

Your older brother who works for Google hooked you up with some free tix, and you still think flower crowns are a thing. You haven’t caught on to the fact that San Francisco summers are cold as fuck, so you freeze your ass off in a crochet dress you bought from the H&M Loves Coachella collection. You still think Chromeo is an indie band, and “know a guy” who buried vodka and drugs behind a bush somewhere in Golden Gate Park. You’re also a foodie!

TREASURE ISLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL

You rode on a branded sailboat to the festival while watching Mikal Cronin perform on the boat for a commercial. You love MGMT, and you Instagram the ferris wheel at the festival using the hashtag #NotCoachella. Your molly kicked in at 6 PM while you were dancing in the “silent disco tent” (that exists because it’s zany) with your fellow tech bros.

ULTRA MIAMI

You become sexually aggressive when you hear Steve Aoki, and the tape over your nipples is falling off because you sweat more than the average person. Your kandi is majestic. Unfortunately, you peaked on the party bus on the way there.


SXSW, photo by Steven Ruud

 

SXSW

You are a rapper and you want people to listen to your mixtape, you are a band that thought of a really quirky viral stunt that you can’t wait to pull on Sixth Street, you are a music publicist whose schedule is SO INSANE this week, you are a music writer who is SO OVER South By, you are a brand manager for a deeply uncool household product who heard that SXSW is hip, you are a student at UT who gets how it all works, you are big in the garage rock scene and can remember when this festival was cool, you are Rachel Ray, you are an influencer, you are an #influencer, you are Trae the Truth, you have an app, you are standing in line for Fader Fort, you are certain that you are more important than the other people here, you are a street style blogger, you are a street style icon, you have a college radio show, you are a mid-tier marketing executive at Vevo, you’re an Austin resident just hoping to get out and catch some live music, you are sick of it all and ironically going to PF Chang’s, you just happen to be in town and are unironically going to PF Chang’s, you are someone who’s been coming for years because you love discovering great bands, you are a cultural ambassador for a Scandinavian country, you have a quirky interview show on YouTube, you just lurrrrve breakfast tacos, you can’t believe how cheap beer is here compared to New York, you are hoping to build, you work in social media, you are Wiz Khalifa.

See the full list at Noisey.

 

 

Digging Ra Paulette

by Whatsblem the Pro

You think YOU'RE an underground artist? -- PHOTO: Ra Paulette

You think YOU’RE an underground artist? — PHOTO: Ra Paulette

If you’ve spent much time at all sitting around camp fires and burn barrels chewing the fat with people who go to Burning Man, then you know they tend to be fond of talking about buying land and forming intentional communities of one kind or another, building on the lessons learned by participating in the culture that has grown up around the event.

It goes without saying that they’re also rather fond of art, and uniqueness, and deserts.

Somewhere nestled in the big empty between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, there’s a burner daydream for sale: 208 acres of privacy and freedom to spread out on. . . and the property features two hand-excavated art caves.

Eloi need not apply -- PHOTO: Ra Paulette

Eloi need not apply — PHOTO: Ra Paulette

The large and intricately carved underground spaces – described in the real estate listing as ‘cathedrals’ or ‘meditation caverns’ – are the handiwork of 67-year-old Ra Paulette, who has spent the last quarter of a century working alone at digging out and decorating a series of mind-blowing sandstone chambers beneath the surface of New Mexico.

Describing his process, Paulette says “manual labor is the foundation of my self-expression. To do it well, to do it beautifully, is a whole-person activity, engaging mental and emotional strengths as well as physical strength.”

Armed only with hand tools and his trusty wheelbarrow, Paulette follows his own very particular star in a starless darkness whose sky lies beneath our feet. He seems to have developed techniques all his own that allow him to work with remarkable efficiency, accompanied only by his faithful dog.

“When digging and excavating the caves,” he elaborates, “I break down all the movements into their simplest parts and reassemble them into the most efficient patterns and strategies that will accomplish the task while maintaining bodily ease. Like a dancer, I feel the body and its movement in a conscious way. I’m fond of calling this ‘the dance of digging,’ and it is the secret of how this old man can get so much done.”

Paulette’s strange story and that of his long and solitary labor of love has been immortalized in a documentary that may just be on its way to an Academy Award nomination: director Jeffrey Karoff’s CAVE DIGGER. The film, which has been much-lauded at international film festivals this year, spelunks both Paulette’s artistic ouevre, and the artist’s difficulties in dealing with the demands of his patrons. Paulette’s clashes with those who would try to direct his artistic efforts in exchange for mere money have spawned a distressing number of unfinished projects and left the cloistered cave-carver determined to work only for himself as he completes his magnum opus over the course of a decade of digging.

“My final and most ambitious project is both an environmental and social art project that uses solitude and the beauty of the natural world to create an experience that fosters spiritual renewal and personal well being,” explains Paulette. “It is a culmination of everything I have learned and dreamed of in creating caves.”

According to the real estate listing, grid electricity and telephone lines are ready to serve the lot at its perimeter, and the gated property features roads that connect with New Mexico State Highway 285 for easy access. Along with Paulette’s underground cathedrals and their “candlelit niches, recessed seating and various breathtaking side rooms that are washed in sunlight,” the 208-acre homestead boasts “majestic mountain views” and “surreal rock formations throughout.”

See you there?

The trailer for Jeffrey Karoff’s Ra Paulette documentary, CAVE DIGGER

The Digital Renaissance Faire: A New Burner Event Gets Off the Ground

by Whatsblem the Pro

DRF Logo by Corey 'Endeavor' Rosen

DRF Logo by Corey ‘Endeavor’ Rosen

The first annual Digital Renaissance Faire is coming up at the end of May in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. It isn’t particularly digital, and it’s not a Renaissance Faire; Corey ‘Endeavor’ Rosen‘s brainchild is, in Rosen’s own words, “a B.Y.O.E. (Bring Your Own Everything) community-based educational collaborative art festival practicing decommodification and sacred economy within a festival community environment.”

In other words, it’s a big burner party!

The DRF will be taking place near South Lake Tahoe from May 23rd to the 27th, with some familiar names among the theme camp participants that will be attending; Barbie Death Camp, for instance, will be hosting one of the distinct ‘villages’ at the event (Air Village), with Digital Apex providing sound.

Corey 'Endeavor' Rosen - Photo by Yobi Bear

Corey ‘Endeavor’ Rosen – Photo by Yobi Bear

“We’ll also have InpsydouT and their incredible black-light art gallery,” Rosen reports, “and the Financial Liberation Institute will be hosting a village workshop space. Remixed Ink will be bringing a screen-printing SWAG theme camp. MAP (Music, Art, Poetry) is presenting a live music and performance theme camp. . . and the YUM Truck will be cooking up some amazing food for us to sample on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”

Sacred Spaces will be hosting Earth Village, with the Hookahdome as their village sound camp. EVOLVER will furnish some workshop space, and don’t miss Healing Sensations massage healing theme camp, even if you feel fine. SoulShine will balance your chakras with aromatherapy using scented candles, oils, soaps, and elixirs, which sounds like a pleasantly smellful time even if you’re ungroovy and don’t believe in chakras or care if they’re unbalanced.

FluxFire will be rapidly combining things with oxygen in order to threaten and enliven your very existence on this planet in Fire Village at the Digital Renaissance Faire, with soundtrack courtesy of The Othership. The folks from Leafy Green Gallery will be on hand with a sculpture gallery featuring live welding and glass-blowing demonstrations. Rainbow Heart will run a village workshop space while the Sensuality Salon will be hosting an activity theme camp designed to “connect your heart to your senses,” which is probably not as painful as it sounds. Our esteemed colleagues from Burn After Reading Magazine and Raised By Wolves will caffeinate you ’til you’re sore at their coffee bar, while PyroClastic Flow spins fire art.

Camp Happy Hour will host Water Village with a bar and art gallery, and sonic assistance from Sustainable Bass Collective. The Inversion Playground and outdoor workshop space will be available for your use courtesy of a coven of hawt adrenaline princesses known as the Tahoe Ciello Aerialists. There will be a photo booth run by Unique Exposures, and you might just find some stylin’ new (to you) duds at the Clothing Exchange.

The four traditional elements being insufficient for modern needs, there will also be an Aether Village, where the DRF Spirit Guides will man (or woman) an Information Booth, Ice Sales, and the Spirit Stage, a 24-hour open mic stage where YOU can be the star (or possibly jackass)! Rainbow Ranch will present a village workshop space, and Sk8&Create will welcome you into (out to?) their outdoor art gallery and mini skate park. 9Energies will be there, too, to determine which of the nine energies is your superpower.

The Auburn chapter of the Hip-Hop Congress is running the show in Youth Village, with ZeroDB‘s Silent Disco, and the Illumination Dissemination Theater, a movie theater providing educational documentaries and forward-thinking programs all weekend long.

It all promises to add up to an interesting event. Weather allowing, it should be a good time for everyone.

Even Cookie Monster. Photo by Tim Eliseo

Even Cookie Monster. Photo by Tim Eliseo

For More Information:

DRF Hotline: 916-WIRE-DRF
Event Website: www.digitalrenfaire.org
Ticket Page: www.pccn.ticketbud.com/digitalrenfaire
Facebook Community Page: www.facebook.com/digitalrenfaire
Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/530324116983560/