The 2020 installment of Burning Man music festival has gained artistic shape, with festival organizers announcing “Empyrean” as the thematic temple design for this year’s chapter of the Black Rock Desert-based affair. Designed by Laurence “Renzo” Verbeck and Sylvia Adrienne Lisse, “Empyrean” has an eight-star configuration, a design that Burning Man lauds for its “lovely geometry and inclusive design.”
The temple is 200 inches in diameter and will peak at 70 inches. “Empyrean” is an interactively structure that will be outfitted with flag poles that attendees can write on and pulley to the top to release their written sentiments to the wind as an offering.
“Empyrean’s” symbolic value dates back to Medieval times. Representative of the “highest celestial point,” from which humanity can reach the cosmos, Empyrean is also heralded as the birthplace of fire. A light that simulates a flickering flame will be displayed in the center apex of the temple, in homage to this association. Notably, “Empyrean” is not Verbeck and Lisse’s introduction to Burning Man temple architecture: the artistic pair erected 2019’s Temple of Direction. Burning Man will return to the Nevada desert from August 30 – September 7, 2020.
Beloved desert festival, Burning Man faces yet another obstacle, this time in the form of an environmental impact statement from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Earlier in the year, Burning Man confronted its growing influencer culture with ticketing changes. However, the most recent issue proves a lot more challenging than just cutting down on Instagram-ers and could hold serious negative implications for the future of Burning Man.
In an announcement released on March 20, Burning Man stated after reviewing BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Burning Man, the proposals were “in direct conflict with [their] community’s core principles” and would potentially “outright kill” the event. The 372-page draft comes in response to Burning Man Project’s request for a 10-year permit for Black Rock City — home to Burning Man for the last 29 years.
The biggest concerns Burning Man cites include several mitigations recommended by the BLM that would result in, “federal government replacing, overseeing, or managing areas of Black Rock City’s operations that have been successfully built and managed for decades with expert, dedicated staff and thousands of volunteers.” The cost estimates for implementing BLM’s proposed “mitigations” and “monitoring” come out to $20 million per year and would increase ticket prices by $286 per person.
Burning Man asks the public to submit feedback while the draft is still under consideration. The deadline for public comments is April 29 and more details can be found here.
The art from Black Rock City is heading to The Smithsonian in Washington, DC. The exhibit, titled “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” will finally give those who’ve not yet visited the playa the chance to experience its revolutionary art concepts.
“The title is part of that kind of idea, we’re inviting people to come in and, in some cases, they’ll be able to add to the artworks or interact with the art physically, which is not something people get the chance to do in a museum,” says Nora Atkinson, The Smithsonian’s Curator of Craft.
Atkinson further explains that the exhibition will take over the Renwick Gallery and the entire block until January 21, 2019, showcasing jewelry, sculptures, costumes, and photos.
“This is literally the largest exhibition our museum has ever put on. It’s the entire building and the neighborhood combined… I really want people to feel empowered. Burning Man is all about building a society you want to live in and that’s what this exhibition is about.”