afterburn sectional graphic


To Burn or Not to Burn

Where else can one create art and set it aflame? For a moment the art is a sculpture of fire. The artist imparts power to his or her creation, but this power also causes its disappearance. The moment in which the sculpture is finished is the moment in which it vanishes in flames. A fire sculpture is the very image of immediate experience.

As with all things at Burning Man, however, immediate experience also implies immediate responsibility. This year, vigilant education and careful monitoring reduced the number of post-event burn scars to fewer than 20!

Part of this success resulted from efforts to educate participants. The Art Team worked much more closely than in previous years with those who wanted to burn their art, giving them more options and more advice about burn-scar prevention. The use of new materials to shield the playa led to some surprising breakthroughs.

For the second year in a row, the Man and its platform were positioned on top of a giant burn blanket covered with sand, and once again absolutely no scaring resulted, despite the intense heat produced when the Man expires in pyrotechnic splendor.

For 2002, participants will receive information on how to purchase their own burn blankets. For more information on different methods of protecting the playa, please check out the Playa Protection plan.

Burning on the open playa was reduced for 2001, as many participants used public burn platforms instead, and production of durable art increased. As artists grow ambitious, they often choose to build each year on what they have achieved and carry their work into the future.