Radical Self-Expression At Its Utmost; What It’s Really Like At Burning Man

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Yash Singh

Burning Man is unlike any other festival around the globe. It wouldn’t befit it to be called just a “Festival.” It is a giant spectacle in the middle of Nevada that is constructed and deconstructed, all in a matter of days.

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For one whole week, a mystical burgh is erected by art aficionados who embark on a spiritual journey marked by art, music and contemporary arts. While the Burning Man is wildly diverse in its entirety there are a few “principles” stipulated by the founder Larry Harvey which are to be followed by attendees.

RADICAL INCLUSION

The first of this coincides with “radical inclusion”. This refers to the extraordinary norm of living in the middle of the desert where anything goes! Attendees can indulge in whatever it is that pleases their creative outlook with no restrictions and do it willfully. This expression rings true, first and foremost, at Burning Man.

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DECOMMODIFICATION

Another principle that is deeply embedded in the roots of the festival is “decommodification”. This means that there are no sponsorships, plugs, advertisements or dealings, related to further monetary gains here. As a result, the authenticity of the festival lives on, no matter the number of attendees.

GIFTING

“Gifting” is another long-standing tradition that lives within the principle of decommodification. It entails attendees indulging in gift-giving devoid of any pre-conditions. It must not contemplate a return or exchange of any sort.

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RADICAL SELF-ALLIANCE

“Radical self-alliance” is the idea of relying on and encouraging your own inner inventiveness, resourcefulness and discovery.

RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION

One principle that arises from the unique gifts that every attendee possesses is that of “Radical self-expression”. It refers to the act of making sure no one but you, yourself have an influence on your art.

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COMMUNAL EFFORT

“Communal effort” is bang in the centre of Burning Man’s identity. It highlights the fact that all attendees must work together.  Creative collaboration above all.

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CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY

“Civic responsibility” ensures the attendees are civil in their conduct and respect all laws, both state and federal.

LEAVING NO TRACE

This one seems to be withering away with time in recent years as the Festival has seen itself transform and elevate to massive proportions. “Leaving no trace” is one for the environment. Attendees must clean up after them and make sure that there is nothing left behind.

The Playa

PARTICIPATION

The spirit of Burning Man lives within “participation”. The general vibe and energy that flows have to do with everyone being involved and being open to participation in any and all activities around them.

IMMEDIACY

“Immediacy” comes in last, but not the least. “Seeking to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”

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It highlights the motive, mission and ideology behind Burning Man.

Photo Courtesy: Burning Man.

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