Ukrainian Art at Burning Man 2018: Highlights

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Art installation at Burning Man 2018

Yesterday the Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada ended with burning the Galaxia temple in somber silence as the tribute to the deceased founder of the community Larry Harvey. This year’s theme revolved around the pressing topic of technology and artificial intelligence reflected in numerous gigantic installations. Ukrainian camp was represented by two grand projects, embodying present and future of the 21st-century.

History and Nowadays

The Burning Man festival dates way back to 1986 when its co-founders Larry Harvey and Jerry James burned a 9-foot wooden man on the San Francisco beach on the summer solstice. Ever since the festival transformed and even formulated 10 guidelines, which state that everyone can join the community and inspire themselves as well as the others. One of the most important principles of the festival and its events is the absence of commercial profit: no advertisement, no sponsors, no imposing. Instead, the festival shifts focus to art and creativity, sharing impressions and experiences.

In May 2018, Ukraine hosted an official event as a part of the festival — Precompression Pre-Party, which took place at the VDNG Expocenter of Ukraine and gathered more than 500 people. This year’s festival topic is Artificial Intelligence, which logically corresponds to the 2018 Burning Man’s theme — “I, Robot”.

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Burning Man 2018 Highlights

The Orb. Artists Bjarke Ingels and Jakob Lange
The Orb. Artists Bjarke Ingels and Jakob Lange
Galaxia. Artist Arthur Mamou-Mani
Galaxia. Artist Arthur Mamou-Mani
Baba Yaga’s House. Artist Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club
Baba Yaga’s House. Artist Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club
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The central and attention-grabbing installation at Burning Man 2018 was The Orb — and it’s exactly what it says. The giant inflatable structure was inspired by NASA’s Echo Project and brought to Nevada by Danish authors Bjarke Ingels and Jakob Lange. The Orb is essentially a huge mirror balloon standing on the 32-meter inclined steel mast.

Galaxia temple by Arthur Mamou-Mani, which was burned at the end of the festival, was another notable art piece. Shaped of 20 timber trusses converging as a spiral towards one point in the sky, it was inspired by the superior form of Gaia in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. The heart of Galaxia was a giant 3D printed mandala. The temple served as a mourning place, and Burning Man’s founder Larry Harvey was commemorated there as well.

One of the most Instagrammable installations at this year's event, Baba Yaga’s House seems to have emerged from the traditional Slavic fairytales and sprinkled with steampunk elements. The project by Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club allowed the boldest and the brightest to ascend the stairs and meet the old witch that, according to the fairytale, lived in the house.

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Ukrainian Art Installations

Burning Man 2018 hosted Ukrainian camp as well — the country’s burners were represented by two projects, Time To Say Goodbye and Ai.tlants, referring to the present and future accordingly.

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Time To Say Goodbye is a 25-meter tunnel made of office ceilings and lamps. The abundance of bright lights at the end of the tunnel hints at the traditional image of death, and in a way represents how many humans live and die surrounded by the office space. The project was first presented in 2011 in Mystetskyi Arsenal by its author Oleksii Sai. Many visitors walked through and saw the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in real life.

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The second Ukrainian art installation, Ai.tlants, was made by VJ Sveta Reinish and artist Alexandra Stepanenko. Aleksandra is not a first-timer at Burning Man. Last year, she already took part in the community event and in 2018 teamed up with VJ Sveta Reinish to create something new. The name Ai.tlants already hints at the installation's background: three robots hold the world on their shoulders just like Atlant - the Titan from the Greek mythology. In this work, the artists trust the AI with running the world of future. Larry Harvey’s community lives on and carries the free spirit into the world.

We hope to see more Ukrainian projects on the next year’s Burning Man.

Photo sources: dezeen.com, aitlants.worlak.com, oleksiysai.com, @midhubid, @trevorburnzy, cover photo by @annastrupinskaya. All images belong to their right authors.

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