The Burning Man Event in Black Rock City

Da Vinci’s Workshop was the annual art theme in 2016, and Black Rock City rose as imagined through the Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. This philosophical theme sought to combine Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance.

The Man in the center of our city stood atop a public square lined with workshops (“guilds”) which provided space for interactive manufacturing and creative spaces hosted by artisans and makers from across the United States and around the world. The Man itself, beautifully reimagined in the style of the Vitruvian Man, was designed to display on a rotating machine, reminiscent of many of Leonardo’s machines and drawings. While mechanical difficulties prevented its rotation, it was fixed in place, assuredly no less wondrous to behold.

Surrounding and extending beyond the Man were art installations conceived of and built by new and experienced artists from across the spectrum of the Burning Man community. In addition to thousands of random acts of creativity ranging from performances and parties to costumes and conversations, there were 316 placed art installations on the playa in 2016. This included 58 that received honoraria grants from Burning Man Project, totaling $1.2 million in BRC arts funding.

By all accounts, 2016 was a year of Herculean art; the Catacomb of Veils, the Black Rock Lighthouse Service, Helios, and the Temple were shining examples of large, complex, beautifully crafted structures which offered an in-depth experience within and without. But as anyone who’s been to a Burn knows, there’s magic in the smaller art. The pieces that catch you by surprise in the deep outer playa or on a backstreet of BRC. There were plenty of those in 2016 as well, reminding us that everyone is invited to share their creative vision with the Burning Man community (yes, including you!).

In 2016 we were once again graced with a stunning Temple designed by the one-and-only David Best. His tenth Temple for Black Rock City, aptly named The Temple Project, this one took a departure in style and materials from many of his past creations. Instead of the usual intricately cut, filigreed wood, this one was made from lumber aged to look weathered and old. The result was a visually striking piece that more than fulfilled its promise to serve as the spiritual home of our city.

2016 Facts and Figures

  • 67,290 participants collaborated to create yet another vibrant city in the dust.
  • Fire: 18 burning art projects, 36 flame effects projects, and 12 pyro projects lit up the city’s skyline.
  • Mutant vehicles are the roaming art projects we love to explore BRC aboard. In 2016 we received 891 applications and approved 800. 172 were a no-show and 7 didn’t meet specifications at inspection, resulting in a total of 624.
  • 210 volunteer lamplighters kindly and methodically lit the city’s 917 lanterns each night.
  • We added 300 new Yellow Bikes, for a total of 686 bikes participating in our participant created and supported bike share program.
  • Camps: Black Rock City’s Placement team placed a total of 1,359 camps:
    • 892 Theme Camps
    • 68 villages
    • 90 art support camps
    • 27 work support camps
    • 48 Mutant Vehicle camps
  • Recycle Camp had its biggest year ever, recycling approximately 3 3/4 tons or 7,500 lbs. of aluminum. This produced a rebate of close to $2000, which was donated to the local schools in Gerlach.
  • Lost & Found received over 2,400 items in 2016. Thanks to the diligent and generous attention of a team of volunteers, this process returned 75% of IDs, 63% of phones and 50% of backpacks lost in Black Rock City.