From its early days on a small beach in San Francisco in the 1980s, the Burning Man festival has evolved into a temporary city, population 25,000, in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. For one week in August, the experimental community called Black Rock City challenges participants to join together in a spirit of self-reliance and creativity. Art is an essential aspect of Burning Man. Each year, Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, announces a theme for the event. Participants seek to make that theme come alive, in ways ranging from large-scale installations to individual costumes. During the years, Burning Man has become a testing-ground for a growing circle of artists seeking alternatives to mainstream art institutions and engaged audiences. All mediums are represented, with few constraints beyond safety, but certainly the most compelling works are large-scale constructions and radically altered vehicles, art cars. During the festival, most of this art is burned, in a ritual that strips it of its value in the conventional marketplace. Art at Burning Man, like the experience of being there itself, is a way of being outside routine existence. a decade, photographer A. Leo Nash has been creating a photographic document of this work and in his photographs we see the wellspring of a new art movement.
Art in the Desert