The 2015 Burning Man Theme: Carnival of Mirrors— and Tickets

 

Burning Man has always had a carnival like atmosphere and lots of mirrors. This Kaleidoscope has captured lots of Peggys.

Burning Man has always had a carnival like atmosphere— and lots of mirrors. This Kaleidoscope captured my wife Peggy in her floppy white hat.

 

It is that time of year when you have to prove your love for Burning Man by obtaining a ticket. On Wednesday, February 18 at 12-noon Pacific Standard Time, I will be sitting at my computer with my finger poised above the buy button. The computer’s clock (which I will have reset through the world atomic clock) will be counting down the seconds. At 11:59:59 my finger will make a dash for the button. Then I will wait. With luck, at some point between one and three hours, I will get on the site. Hopefully there will be tickets left. I am sure that computer geeks, far more geeky than I, have figured out how to hit that button within millionths, if not billionths of a second after 12:00. My poor human pinky doesn’t stand a chance.

A selfie of my finger poised for action. "Too weird," Peggy says.

A selfie of my pinky poised for action. “Too weird,” Peggy says. Do you think the photo makes me look fat?

And that’s not all. Before I even play Beat the Clock, I will have to preregister to purchase tickets. According to the Burning Man ticket site, I need to do that some time between 12-noon on February 11, and 12-noon on February 14. Apparently, I also have to go online and update my Burning Man profile before I can preregister. Fine.

Assuming I manage to successfully jump through all the hoops Burning Man has created, I will then be given the opportunity to shell out $790 for two tickets and another $50 for parking. Woo hoo. Actually, I don’t mind the price— Burning Man is a bargain for the week of art, entertainment, and experience it provides. And, this year’s theme, The Carnival of Mirrors, sounds intriguing. Here’s what Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man, and Stuart Mangrum, a Burning Man pundit, have to say about it.

This year’s theme is about mirrors and masks, mazes and merger. It will be a kind of magic show that takes the form of an old-fashioned carnival. This Carnival of Mirrors asks three essential questions. Within our media-saturated world, where products and people, consumption and communion morph into an endlessly diverting spectacle, 1) who is the trickster, 2) who is being tricked, and 3) how might we discover who we really are?

Here’s a thought, Larry. Burning Man is always about mirrors and masks and mazes. I suspect that plenty of merging goes on as well, by whatever name you want to call it. But I am a sucker for carnivals: any size, any type, anywhere. As for trickster… he’s one of my all time favorite characters, right up there with clowns, jesters and fools. We are talking crazy wisdom here folks, the type that you get when a Zen master whacks you on the side of the head, or you spend too much time watching old Groucho Marx reruns, or you try to understand modern physics.

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know. The tusks were really stuck, so I went to Alabama where Tuscaloosa. –Groucho Marx

We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough? –A discussion between the physicists Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli

I am reminded of the old adage, “Life’s a circus; enjoy the show.” Burning Man definitely meets the circus criteria, but the event adds a twist: roll up your sleeves and join the show. So while I expect to find fortune tellers, magicians, games of chance and possibly a burlesque show or two in the midway set up at the base of the Man, I know I will be called upon to entertain as well as be entertained. But no, you won’t see me naked, or twirling fire, or even more scary, twirling fire and naked.

It doesn't matter which street you walk down at Burning man, you can always expect to find sideshows that capture you attention. This woman displays her fire art. (Photo by Don Green, a member of our 'tribe.')

It doesn’t matter which street you walk down at Burning Man, you can always expect to find sideshows that capture your attention. This woman displays her fire art. (Photo by Don Green, a member of our ‘tribe.’)

The layout for the midway at the base of the Man will be similar to last years as reflected in this photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The layout for the midway at the base of the Man will be similar to last year’s as reflected in this photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

As for a magic show, what's more magical than a giant scorpion that insists on showing up or disappearing depending on which way the wind blows?

As for a magic show, what’s more magical than a giant praying mantis that insists on showing up or disappearing depending on which way the wind blows? Eat your heart out Houdini.

Of course there will be a maze at the heart of the carnival; it’s Burning Man and there is always a maze somewhere. A funhouse of mirrors and masks will be set up where Burners will be challenged to explore their various personalities. Will I find the real me? (If I haven’t done so by my age— hmmm, doubtful.) And what’s at the end of the maze? “…a final passage will reveal a courtyard that surrounds the Burning Man. Photo booths will here record the faces of participants, merging them into a swirling stream that will envelop the entire body of the Man.”

How can I resist? My finger is poised.

Costumes and masks are a major part of Burning Man. (Photo by Don Green.)

Costumes and masks are a major part of Burning Man. (Photo by Don Green.)

I found this hand print mask intriguing.

I found this hand print mask intriguing.

Burning Man masks come in all shapes and sizes. This 2014 sculpture was huge.

Burning Man masks come in all shapes and sizes. This 2014 sculpture was huge. And, I might add, oozing in personality.

A whole series of these carnival-like masks decorated the Center Camp Cafe in 2014.

A whole series of these carnival-like masks decorated the Center Camp Cafe in 2014.

This unusual use of a mirror, allowed me to explore my feminine side. So naturally I had to photograph the process.

This unusual use of a mirror, allowed me to explore my feminine side. So naturally I had to photograph the process.

In fact I am always photographing myself in mirrors at Burning Man. (I'm the tiny image.) Is it ego? Or is it simply the fact that it is damned hard to photograph a mirror without putting yourself in it?

In fact, I am always photographing myself in mirrors at Burning Man. (I’m the tiny image.) Is it ego? Or is it simply the fact that it is damned hard to photograph a mirror without putting yourself in it?

Since I started with a kaleidoscope photo of Peggy, It is only fair that I end with one of me.

Going with the ego theme, I’ll wrap this post up with a whole bunch of Curts. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.) NEXT BLOG: The natural beauty of Burning Man.

41 comments on “The 2015 Burning Man Theme: Carnival of Mirrors— and Tickets

  1. That looks like so much fun! I’ve never heard of this or seen such marvels – including the pinky selfie. It makes me think of The Night Circus. Good luck getting the tickets and make sure to get that pinkie ready!

  2. I had no idea tickets were that expensive, but I can see why it would be worth the price for dedicated fans. I shell out quite a bit for our favourite festival of the year, too (though it’s only a 3-day festival). The best thing about Burning Man, in my opinion, is that some of my favourite bloggers will take their cameras and let me see some of the sights through their posts. Yay!

    • Once you get beyond the ouch, it really is a bargain considering what tickets cost to a 2-3 hour popular concert these days. And then there were the $4,000 a pop tickets to the Super Bowl. 🙂 –Curt

  3. I was surprised how inexpensive the tickets are — at least, relatively speaking. Of course there are the other expenses on top, but if events like this are your thing, it’s a real bargain. Even so, I imagine you always get more than you bargained for.

    The mirrors suddenly reminded me of the wonderful shisha (mirror) embroidery of India. I’ll bet you’ll see a good bit of that during the week.

    • Always a touch of the Far East at Burning Man, Linda. Suspect you are right.

      Most of the expenses are things like a bike (the last thing you want is an expensive one because the dust trashes it), food— costs less that to eat and home, and travel. Fortunately, we are just a short day’s drive away. –Curt

    • I sometimes think of Marshall Mcluhan and “the medium is the message.” Social media impacts what we think, naturally. But it also impacts how we think. I can’t help but wonder what is happening up in our brains. –Curt

  4. May your finger bounce at the exact millisecond required! Now I will have to go and find some Marx Brothers films. Have you not realised that there is no real you? You inhabit lots of different roles depending on which bits of your brain you are stimulating, or are being stimulated by your environment. You can change quite radically, both out of choice or in response to your environment and, sadly, if you have either a brain disease or a trauma to certain parts of your brain, you could become a different you altogether (I am serious). So go out there and choose whatever you you fancy.

    • Interesting thought, Hilary. Life is a great adventure, possibly the only one we have. So jump into it. You have, through your writing, and your sculpture, and your gardening. (and I am sure this is only the beginning). Looking back, I can see consistency in my life. But tomorrow, who knows? As for being normal. it’s never been a goal of mine. 🙂 –Curt

  5. Good luck Curt! Foolishly I suppose, I didn’t know it cost anything to attend Burning Man. I assumed it was just a gathering at a preannounced place and time. Thinking about that I realize it makes no sense. Huge amounts of preparation must go into it making the site ready and providing for all the people who will show up.

    While we all wish you and your finger success, of course we have something at stake too–as we’re all hoping to be beneficiaries of your time there. 🙂

    • It’s a year around venture, Bill. For one week, Burning Man becomes the third largest city in Nevada. It even has it’s own public works department, medical care system, etc. This will mark my 11th year of going. There will be a number of blogs. I am thinking about doing a ten series over the next couple of months: 10 favorite art works, 10 favorite burns, 10 favorite art cars, etc. –Curt

  6. Curt, I’m really looking forward to your 2015 photos from Burning Man. We can all get in on the experience vicariously through your great images. Thanks for being so trigger happy! Good luck. Melissa

  7. That time of year again! So you’ll be poised to purchase on my bday. I know you’ll want to get me a ticket but I can’t keep up with you guys, C. Too wild a trek for me. LOVE the hand shot (how’dya do that? If I tried snapping such a shot, it would turn out bleah) and the last one. I see more than one Curt! Multiply the fun.

  8. I must admit that the theme this year is my kind of theme! I even signed up to volunteer for lamplighters and for helping at the center camp café. It does not give me an advantage for tickets but it does show you how motivated I am this year should the stars show me the way…….Luna

  9. Curt, these are interesting insights into BM. Attendance, for many reasons, is obviously a labor of love. But after all of your artistic photos and informative posts, I recognize it for the truly unique event that it is. The desert strips away every distraction, and it makes the art even more fantastic. Wonderful photos. ~Jame

  10. It sounds like an absolutely amazing experience. I had no idea of all the prework that goes into getting tickets (nor the price). I’m glad you have your finger poised and ready. I have my fingers crossed for you!

  11. First, I can see I am waaay being on your stories… Second, if that was a real, well-endowed lady with a mirror mask, I should have joined you in pinky poised time. Third, that is one BIG “pinky” you have!

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