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a dozen years oF burnInG Man PHotoGraPHy
BY BA R BA R A T R AU B
IntroductIon by Les bLank ForeWord + aFterWord by Larry Harvey e P I Lo G u e by L a W r e n c e F e r L I n G H e t t I
“Barbara Traub first photographed the effigy of a man set ablaze every year at Burning Man in 1994. Her first shots became the iconic image on her book cover.” —Time
The Black Rock Arts Festival (a.k.a. “Burning Man”) is an annual pilgrimage for generations of artists to the alkali flats of northwest Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Culminating over America’s Labor Day weekend, this weeklong event attracts more than 50,000 people. During summer’s final days, they celebrate imagination and transformation on this expansive canvas, contained by a ring of mountains and a very big sky. On Saturday night, Black Rock City emerges as Nevada’s fifthlargest metropolis as attendees burn a four-story tall wooden sculpture of a “man”, striped in neon and embedded with fireworks. This is a groundbreaking visual collection of twelve years of Burning Man, from its inception as a display of alternative art to the recognition of its global influence on contemporary culture. Photographer Barbara Traub captures the zeitgeist in a cornucopia of artifacts, structures, and costumes that defy description. Contributions from filmmaker Les Blank, Burning Man founder Larry Harvey, Star Trek’s Spock, Leonard Nimoy, and beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti help to illuminate Traub’s unique perspective on this dynamically evolving event. This revised edition includes 16 more pages and two-dozen new photographs.
The obscure reference in a Nevada guide book to Bruno’s homemade ravioli in the tiny town of Gerlach first lured Barbara to the nearby hot springs of Black Rock Desert. Upon returning to San Francisco, she came across a flyer for Burning Man happening in the same desert. The rest, as they say, is herstory…
DESERT TO DREAM
A DozEn YEARS oF BURninG MAn PHoToGRAPHY
BY BARBARA TRAUB
IntroductIon by Les bLank Foreword + aFterword by Larry Harvey contrIbutIon by Leonard nImoy e P I Lo G u e by L a w r e n c e F e r L I n G H e t t I
SAn FRAnciSco, cA
Immedium, Inc. P.O. Box 31846 San Francisco, CA 94131 www.immedium.com Text copyright ©2011 Barbara Traub Introduction copyright ©2011 Les Blank Foreword and afterword copyright ©2011 Larry Harvey Photography copyright ©1994-2011 Barbara Traub Grateful acknowledgement is made to The Burning Man Project for permission to publish this photographic collection and to the following to reprint excerpts of their work. The Black Rock Desert map is courtesy of Bureau of Land Management and Trails West Guide to the Applegate Trail. Reprinted with permission. Afterword map of Black Rock City is reprinted with permission ©2005 Rod Garrett (plan & graphic) and Will Roger (photo). Excerpt by Leonard Nimoy, from I AM NOT SPOCK, copyright ©1997 by Leonard Nimoy. Reprinted with permission from the author. #97 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from A FAR ROCKAWAY OF THE HEART, copyright ©1997 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Immedium Special Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Traub, Barbara. Desert to dream : a decade of burning man photography / by Barbara Traub ; introduction by Les Blank ; foreword by Larry Harvey ; epilogue by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.--1st hardcover ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59702-026-8 (hardcover) 1. Portrait photography--Nevada. 2. Burning Man (Festival)--Pictorial works. I. Title. TR680.T73 2006 394.2509793’54--dc22 2005034292
First hardcover edition published 2006. Editor: Tracy Swedlow Graphic Designer: Stefanie Liang Photo Editor: Mia Nakano Photoshop Digital: Daniel McNerney Printed in Singapore 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN: 978-1-59702-026-8
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
inTRoDUcTion L e s b L an k FoREwoRD L arry H arvey P R E FA c E barbara t r aub ExcERP T FRoM “i AM noT SPock” L eo n ard n I m oy E P i lo G U E L aw re n ce Fer LIn GHet tI AFTERwoRD L arry H arv ey conTRiBUToR BioGRAPHiES ABoUT THE AUTHoR PoSTScRiPT d.s. b L ack
173 175 176
FREE cloUD The title of this piece is in homage to Alfred Stieglitz (married to Georgia O’Keeffe) who liked to photograph clouds because they were tax-free and available to everyone. Stieglitz claimed that the subject photographed did not matter as it was the photographer who made the picture interesting.
SPAcE cowBoY One of a group of performance cowboys who sport all silver wear for the length of Burning Man.
TEMPlE oF JoY One of a series of temples created by David Best and team, Temple of Joy was built almost entirely of recycled wood and surfaced with elegantly carved panels. Visitors would come to meditate, commune with the passage of spirit, leave their wishes and prayers, bring tributes, hug, hang out, and admire this magnificent edifice. Measuring approximately 30' x 30' with a 100' spire, it was burned the night following the Burning of the Man.
RIPPER Ripper the Friendly Shark car by Tom Kennedy reveals very little of the original Nissan Sentra as the custom-built frame and foam insulation create a new look-and-feel. Inside the car, blue fluorescent light illuminates the shark’s belly and little rubber fish that dangle from the ceiling.
SEA ANEMONE Vinyl ball with tentacles on top of a van by Pali-X-Mano.
ESPLANANDE The innermost concentric road, where big theme camps and art installations are, face the open playa with the man in the middle.
FIRE CONCLAVE (left), PLAYA DEL FUEGO (right) Every year Crimson Rose directs fire dancers, spinners, eaters, and gymnasts who perform in a circle around the Man before he goes up in flames.
Les BLank is a documentary filmmaker whose work offers intimate glimpses into the lives and music of passionate people who live at the periphery of American society—a series that includes rural Louisiana French musicians and cooks, Mexican and Polish-Americans, New Orleans music and Mardi Gras, chef Alice Waters, filmmaker Werner Herzog in Burden of Dreams, cowboy Gerald Gaxiola, blues singer Lightnin’ Hopkins, Gap-Toothed Women, and a tea expert. Major retrospectives of his work have been held at venues such as MoMA in New York, FILMEX in LA, Cinémathèque Français in Paris, and Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City. In 1990, Blank received the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for outstanding lifetime achievement as an independent filmmaker. Lawrence FerLinghetti is a writer, poet and painter, who co-founded City Lights, the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country. His publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956 and the trial that followed drew national attention to the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat movement. Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind continues to be the most popular poetry book in the U.S. and in 1998 he was named San Francisco’s Poet Laureate. He has a dozen books currently in print in the U.S., numerous translations of his work abroad, and his paintings have been shown in galleries worldwide. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he has received the BABRA Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Author’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. Larry harvey is the co-founder and executive director of Burning Man. He serves as chairman of senior staff and Black Rock City LLC. He co-chairs the organization’s Art Department, scripts and co-curates the annual art theme, collaborates with artists in creating aspects of the art and design of Black Rock City, produces the annual newsletter, and supervises the organization’s political lobbying efforts. Harvey has lectured at Harvard’s International Conference on Internet and Society in Boston, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Cooper Union in Manhattan, South By Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Portland Art Museum, Grace Cathedral and Main Library in San Francisco. In his role as spokesperson for the Project, he is known for his Stetson hat. Leonard nimoy earned three Emmy nominations for playing Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek TV series from 1966-1969. He reprised that role in many Star Trek films and also directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Three Men and a Baby. He released several albums of vocal recordings on Dot Records, acted in various made for TV films and such plays as Oliver!, The King And I, and Sherlock Holmes. Nimoy is also a poet and photographer with books published such as A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life and Shekhina, a photographic study of women that visualizes the feminine aspect of God’s presence, inspired by Kabbalah. He has written two autobiographies: I Am Not Spock in 1977 and I Am Spock in 1995.
BarBara TrauB is a photographer and multimedia artist, whose work has exhibited at the San Francisco Arts Commission, Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, CBGB’s Gallery 313 and Cooper Union in New York, Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, UMBC and School 33 in Baltimore, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Les Rencontres d’Arles in France, and the International Fotofestival of Knokke-Heist in Belgium. Her photography of Burning Man has appeared in Time, Wired, Digital Journalist, Spiegel Online, Photo District News, De Standaard, San Francisco Chronicle, Pozytyw, and New Age. She (and her photos) performed in the Stagewerx premiere of the Burning Man rock opera How To Survive The Apocalypse. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she resides in San Francisco, California.
“Barbara Traub, who is best known as the photographer who created some of the most recognizable images of Burning Man.” —mikl-em, Laughing Squid “Traub’s evocative photography displays the human connections established by the attendees with each other, the art they produce and the beautiful landscape of the Nevada desert...From the sensitive nude photographs of people in all manner of color and caked in mud to cars retrofitted to be art on wheels and the temporary temples which dot the desert floor.” —TakeGreatPictures.com “Barbara’s Burning Man photo collection is great and will take you on a journey through this ephemeral world. Ethnicity, extravaganza, pop culture, eroticism, nudity, free land: the Burning Man is something unique” —Fine Art TV “Holiday Bookshelf—Top 10 Pick” —Nevada Magazine
$29.95 uSa Printed in Singapore
“Soon after relocating from Baltimore to San Francisco in 1994, Barbara Traub made her first trip to Burning Man, and she and the rest of the world have never been the same. Over the next decade, Traub became one of the festival’s most prominent photographers [and thus one of its unofficial publicists], having her shots from the desert transmitted back to civilization via Mondo 2000, Wired, and numerous other outlets.” —The Onion “Desert to Dream is an unprecedented photographic record of a decade of Burning Man celebrations…Traub worked on assignment for Wired’s cover story on Burning Man, was chief photographer for HardWired’s book Burning Man that was published the following year, and shot for Wired News in 2001 [and 2006].” —wired.com “Traub’s images capture the festival’s spirit in lots of zany costumes and art installations celebrating off-kilter takes on contemporary culture and the participants’ flights of fancy…Good visual fun and countercultural documentation, this is vibrant stuff in these grim days, a must for pop-culture collections.” —Mike Tribby, Booklist, American Library Association “[Desert to Dream] is often downright beautiful…It’s a lovely book, beautifully shot, surreal and random and appropriately odd.” —Mark Morford, SFGate.com
inspiring a world of imagination
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