Burning Man starts on Monday, August 29th, and I hope this last post comes in time to help those of you about to head off the grid. Whether you are going ‘just’ to participate or you’ve got grand academic plans for analysis, a few of these resources will certainly help deepen your appreciation for all that happens at and because of Burning Man.
Academics and the Opportunity to Study Dress on the Playa
For scholars headed to Burning Man, there are a number of opportunities to get together and bounce ideas around. A group called “Burning Nerds,” (via google groups) helps professors and researchers stay updated on “recent, relevant, and ongoing research about our collective experience in Black Rock City, and find out about meet-ups, collaborations, and future events” (They also have a Facebook page). To learn more, check out the Academics page, which is quite comprehensive and includes a list of scholarly works focused on Burning Man.
I’d personally be very interested in hearing from anyone whose academic research focuses on the costume element-and a few of you have already reached out (thank you!). Two events on the playa itself should help to ignite (pardon the pun) scholarly discussions of costumes at Burning Man:
Event 1: On Friday, September 2, from 2:30-5, Burning Nerds will be meeting on the playa for a cocktail soiree and meet-n-greet (More here). If you’re interested, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Event 2: A special Fashion Show will be held on the Playa on Saturday, September 3 from 5:30-7pm at the Center Camp Cafe. According to Arts Advocate & Special Events Producer for Burning Man, $teven Ra$pa, this annual Black Rock City People’s Fashion Show “allows anyone to get up and walk on the catwalk and provides a forum to spotlight creative body adornment, costuming and personas on the playa.”
A few additional resources that seemed particularly interesting/useful (especially to someone located in the Bay Area and studying fashion are:
- “Burning Man at Google: a cultural infrastructure for new media production” (article) by Fred Turner. New Media & Society (Feb/March 2009; Sage Publications) From the abstract: “The article develops the notion that Burning Man serves as a key cultural infrastructure for the Bay Area’s new media industries.”
- Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event (book) by Katherine K. Chen. University of Chicago Press, 2008. Excerpt of book description: “tracks how a small, underfunded group of organizers transformed into an unconventional corporation with a ten-million-dollar budget and two thousand volunteers.”
- “Radical Conformity: Fashion Trends at Burning Man.” (Conference presentation) by Rachel Clarke, Popular Culture Association National Conference, San Francisco, CA, 2008. Note: Sadly, this paper does not seem to be available online, but I did hear Rachel Clarke at the PCA conference and her paper was enlightening.
- A Tribe of Artists: Costumes and Culture at Burning Man (Exhibit) by Geoffrey Nelson. Exhibit for the Nevada Museum of Art, 2007.
Thanks to readers for their enthusiasm over this series – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the different points of view as much as I have. In September, I’ll have one final post from a special guest writer on the 2011 Burner experience – watch for it!
Previous posts in the Burning Man Series: Nevada’s Desert Dress:
- Part I: An overview from Nevada’s perspective by Jan Loverin, Curator of Clothing and Textiles Nevada State Museum’s Marjorie Russell Clothing and Textile Research Center
- Part II: A history of the costumes, by Christine Kristen (aka Lady Bee) the art curator for Burning Man from 1999 -2008
- Part III: Costume as art, by Linda Gass, artist and contributor to FibreArts Magazine
- Part IV: Costume as Fashion incubator by Dusty Bacon, writer and designer at Dustycouture.com