Holy flying-shit-amazeballs-wowzers-wow. I lack the words to describe how amazing it has been. Never expected to see such a spectacle. Riding through the deep playa with the most surprising art and experiences at every stop.. One moment you’re playing the trombone in a marching band, the next you’re diving into a school bus ball pit, then you’re climbing on giant levitating rocks, then you’re cracking a code to get into a secret popcorn bar.. You totally get lost and awed and it is so beautiful and the greatest spectacle and experience as a whole that I have ever had. All the regional burns did not prepare me for this, it was something else. So happy and still dreaming about the many adventures and all the things that go wrong and the shit show and the Playa provides moments and the friends that always got your back. Don’t think I would have survived without Will & Lisa. So much to think about and to be grateful for the thousands of people who create this magic and art. It all makes me want to get creating and start sewing, building, crafting… And to take a little bit of that magic outside of the desert. There were moments I literally forgot I was at Burning Man, in the states, on planet earth. Just wow. 🔥💛
That was what I wrote upon first landing back in Europe, and thinking back about the experience. I still do daydream about the incredible feeling of being there in the golden hour, amongst giant art pieces hiding away in the light blue dust.
Then a pirate ship - art car sails by. Then another surprising moment, and then another. Never I felt the expression “mind-blown” be more apt.
I still describe it as being the best (and definitely most interactive) art experience I have ever had. I still get new thoughts about what art is (I think it is anything that makes you feel something). I am still amazed at how much creativity and expression goes into creating that sort-of Utopia which is Black Rock City. I am also aware of all the critics ranging from “What a waste of money! What a terrible cost on the environment! Rich kids playground! It’s just stupid hedonism!” and to all of those I just have to say.. You do not place enough value on feeling truly amazed, deeply grateful to be alive, wowed and awed like you never thought you could be.
In no particular order, here are some of my favourite images from my time there.. I have to say it’s super hard to capture the feeling of being there and no reportage is in any way comprehensive.. You will see maybe 6 art cars out of 600.. I did not even see 5% of the art that was there, it is just so HUGE and so much fun to get lost in, I now very look forward to coming back and doing it again and be even more prepared for the next time..
And on the final evening I also went on a special yoga art tour with some hot friends :D
Special thanks to Lisa & Will for being excellent adventure companions, Max & Marina for being great friends and inviting us to Tramp Camp, Morgan, Carlota and Mango for being wonderful and inspiring in so many ways.. You are all amazing people I am so lucky to call friends! xxx
“Magic is something you make”.
So I joined a group of dusty mad radical artists in the place we call Nowhere once again. This is but a fraction of what happens in there, and the experience is far more than visual. It’s interactive, it’s something you put yourself into, it’s intense, it forces you to grow. Some say maybe we are just broken people trying to escape reality. By creating a commerce-free environment with radical self-expression, the goal is to experience a different type of society, a sort of utopia. Or maybe we are just pushing into extremes were art & nature, love & joy all combine. It is not just a thrill ride, it can be challenging and many come to terms with all kinds of emotions, with relentless heat and little sleep..
I invite you to see some of the pictures I managed to take, and if you were there, relieve some of the wonder and amazement. If you have never been, you are very welcome to join & participate next year.
DISCLAIMER: I mostly shot those photos with explicit consent from the subjects, exceptions being crowd situations, art installations and other times when the presence of many cameras made it obvious that the performer/subject was okay with being photographed. I tried my best to be discreet as I would never want to make people feel self-conscious or spoil their experience of the moment. I also used my own judgment of what is appropriate and obviously never went near any nakedness with the camera, but if anyone wants any photo removed for whatever reason just let me know. This is my gift to you, you may see things you missed out, or relive great feelings you have experienced. You are free to download, copy and keep the photos. Enjoy!
See you next year dusty nobodies xx
Jade & Moose were the first couple to think it was a good idea to have a food fight instead of a conventional pre-wedding shoot. It was a huge success and I have now done two more since then, learning from each one how to make them better and better. It has been a lot of fun for me too - and I can’t believe I have yet to be involved in one of those myself.
Cakes, Spray Cream, Flour work really well. Jade & Moose were probably the messiest I have seen thanks to use of eggs, milkshake and other wet stuff as weapons. The combination of food-colouring & spray cream got Lorna & Dave particularly colourful - while Dan & Elly used a lot of flour and cream to get very creamy indeed.
New South Wales has some lush and stunning national parks just about one hour from Sydney. I have visited the Colo Valley & went around the Blue Mountains national park - so called because the mist from the eucalyptus trees creates a typical blue-ish tint when seen from a distance.
There are some pretty and quaint little towns such as Blackheath, filled with nice cafes & victorian houses. The drive sometimes can be pretty hazardous when off the roads, but it surely looks great.
While mountain biking trekking I saw lots of spiders, a giant lizard and some kangaroos. I have also seen a beautiful river with sand banks in the Colo Valley. You can also do canyoning - which means going through the bottom of a canyon walking & swimming with the occasional jump into a dark pool.. It’s like an extreme bush walk, wet & cold but a lot of fun. I had no idea about the jumps and as I have a fear of deep waters I was freaking out but then did it anyway. It felt great :)
Confest was wild.
“The ultimate in festivals - volunteer based, self organising, full of lush people and lush vibes, been going for over 30 years.”
In a similar way to Burner events, an alternative society is created where you are free to express yourself, not wear any clothes, forget about time and be always welcome at any workshop or event you may stumble upon.
If I may call Peter a Wizard I would say he cast a spell on hundreds of us, and made us experience ecstatic states of mind brought along by singing, chanting and group dynamics.
There is no amplified music at Confest, but you can always hear the drums and have a good wild dance around the fire to the hypnotic rhythm. There is a mud pool, a steam room, a poisonous river. A massage tent, an open stage with performers and music, a daily throw of coloured powders in a Holi festival style, and so much more..
It is real hard to describe, and hard to photograph because of strict photography restrictions in place. I tried my best to capture only willing subjects, crowds and a few things that should be of no concern. I would like to gift those to all attendees - feel free to grab them and use them as you will. And I would be very happy for you to find a great shot of yourself having the time of your life, maybe in the mudtribe or during the Spontaneous Choir.
I would like to share a few words from Peter Gleeson, the white bearded man who ran the Mud Tribe and the Spontaneous Choir:
”The Love Procession always followed Spontaneous Choir. Their sizes from Friday were 300 followed by 300 others. Saturday 400 followed by 300 others, Sunday 300 with 100 through the procession before the fire circle wedding commenced. Monday 300 followed by another 200 and all who wanted went through twice. I finished the festival with a chord cuddle puddle then had them improvising through the ‘thank you song’. Two men picked me up by the thighs so I could survey the kind of bliss 200 people could generate.
I managed to try out some new ideas. One was converting 4 concentric circles of 400 people, into 2 double spirals in procession position. The love procession could start from the inside so everyone got to go through before outsiders could begin forming a massive queue of an almost never ending 10 to 20. A long wait sometimes, though the reward was a longer procession.
I had to monitor the progression of each procession. Often people with eyes closed would lose connection with the people in front and begin walking at half the speed adding an enormous amount of time to the event and awkward gaps. Some people had to be told not to stop and hug and kiss people along the route. Some people had to be told to just say, ‘I love you’. The mantra is important for the person going through and important for each person who has to say it to each person going through. Some people couldn’t keep their eyes closed which degrades the sensation and creates a risk of psychological harm through a random bonding.
There were at least 1600 different people through the love processions. It is a very powerful form of therapy. It has true transformative powers and ways of healing lots of ills. I encourage people to tell the story everyone will want to hear and relive the adventure that changed your life in a very positive way.
Though the love procession works for everyone, the most affected are the mid to late teens and young adults. It is a kind of initiation, recognition and acceptance into the adult world. ”
And his comments on this year’s Mud Tribe:
“MUD TRIBE involved 200 people - the most ever by 60. I was able to run it because it was warm enough and the blue-green algae wasn’t a problem with washing it all off.
It began with 60 people in the mud bath where I was able to explain the simple rules and attributes for participants. Others waited for their turn in the mud.
Drying took about 3/4 hour on a 24C day around a fire. Some painting occurred.
We left the preparation area in a massive procession. At the end of that, I started a chord singing walk then led people in a dance at the junction of 2 roads. Some people stampeded toward the market and the rest followed which meant the tribe had little interaction with the rest of the ConFesters. I took my time and arrived to find them dancing to drummers so I met my daughter in the chai tent and we chatted for 10 minutes before returning to the tribe.
We formed a circle and did some grand ritual singing and mexican waves before I collected the 2 massive watermelons I had hidden earlier and we feasted.
I sent them off to disperse and interact with the market people but many of them thought it was the end of the performance and vanished. 40 of us performed for the chai tent. 20 of us performed for the medical crew. 6 of us returned to the preparation area.
It was extremely funny and everyone had an amazing time. Gibberish makes it difficult to control but gives the freedom to improvise. Many people had life changing experiences. All have a story they will tell for the rest of their lives.”
You can follow Peter Gleeson on Facebook . For more information on Confest: http://confest.org.au/