Our first exhibition is called City of Many Nations. This is in reference to the community that inspired this whole project, and the impact that the Black Rock City diaspora has had on modern day art, technology, education, social innovation, and countless more.

This exhibition is the marriage of two distinct universes: the traditional art world and big interactive installations synonymous with Burning Man. 

The project is a cross cultural collaboration between two curators, each an expert in their respective field, but as yet not exposed to each other’s cultural background. Letizia (Jury Member, 54th International Art Biennale) has never been to Burning Man, and Elizabeth (former Associate Director of Art for Burning Man) has not experienced the Biennale. 

Here are the pieces they have selected to represent We Are From Dust in our inaugural exhibition.

Singularity Project Rebekah Waites
A massive 40’ tall gold bird cage holds a humble 1950’s era home captive inside. After climbing inside the cage, you’re not sure if you should enter the home but you want to. You want to know what’s inside. What is inside can’t be anything as mind bending as what you just walked into right? Or, can it?

At the entrance of the front door is a welcome mat. It’s the kind you remember from your childhood. The one where you would wipe your feet and read the greeting without second thought, but this one feels different. Once your uneasiness has been taken over by curiosity, you open the door and step inside.

Once inside you are transported into a space that has been trapped in a moment of time forever. Bizarre furnishings, family photos, wallpaper, a tv that has a life of it’s own are among the things you notice. Then you realize….there is another birdcage. This time it’s so big that it almost takes up the entire inside of the home. Trapped inside the birdcage you find the same house you just walked into but this time it’s smaller, playhouse size. Seeing that there is room to climb inside, you open the door to the cage and crawl into the playhouse.

It’s tighter now. Details of your surroundings are creeping in at the same rate as the space around you shrinks. Toys, crayons, a small tea table, and a teddy bear waiting for you to join him. But, then there’s that birdcage again with the same house you climbed into earlier. All you can do is take a seat next to the teddy bear and peek inside the windows of the small house.

And inside this tiny house you realize what you have been searching for… Singularity.

Singularity pulls spectators inside a bizarre world that explores the concept of space and time. It asks us, where did it all begin and when will it ever end? This piece creates a space of curiosity that invites participants to explore how events in our lives are carried with us. It will shift your ideas of reality and your perception of how memories create imprints that are repeated in our mind.

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BE ART – Laura Kimpton
“You step off a boat onto a large Venetian island, where you are welcomed by a 16 foot sculpture of a monkey wearing a “bling” gold necklace that simply states “BE ART!” Then someone walks up, and bestows you with a larger than normal replica of that same necklace, gives you a hug and bids you farewell. What does it mean?

Laura Kimpton’s BE ART acts as a reminder that we ARE art, that art can be accessible, playful, and personal. Adding this level of irreverence to what is arguably the world’s premier art event shows the playfulness that we as Burners experience with art.

The white alabaster monkey bust mimics the formal busts created throughout the ages of premier leaders, rich merchants, erudite scholars, royalty. The monkey’s facial expression will be similar to that of traditional busts on display at museums around the world. The necklace will be gold and shiny, referential to those worn by artists and musicians.

From Laura “my piece for the Venice Biennale is turning out amazing… She will be 16 feet tall and have a huge BE ART necklace on it in gold. I will hand out 500-1000 of my BE ART smaller necklaces to women  – because we are made to make art from our animal bodies. Venice will become my platform to a big performance art piece,  during the biggest art event in the world.”

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Dreamland – Flux Foundation
“Dreamland is a place that is neither here nor there, existing in both the present and our collective memory. It is a place where one gets lost or finds others. Simultaneously a physical object and the intangible, it is a shifting experience of texture, light, color, mist, fire, and aural effects that transport participants to the world of spectacle and the carnivalesque. “

Dreamland is defined by a 50 feet wide circular boardwalk that transports you to the bygone era of the seaside carnival. A 20 foot ornate white metal carousel stands at its center with nine outstretched arms and a single filigreed spire. Between each arm, iridescent gold fabric shimmers day and night. Three small wooden benches rise out of the boardwalk and encircle the carousel. At the boardwalk’s perimeter, three larger benches are interspersed with three white metal 12 foot lampposts. Three 5 foot stainless steel periscopes stand beyond the benches, revealing a kaleidoscope view of the world.

The installation bursts with dynamic interactivity, and is shown with mist in the daytime, and fire at night. Participants control the movement of the central carousel by spinning its golden ring. Differences in direction and velocity activate varying effects such as lighting patterns on the central spire, its spinning arms and the three lampposts change color and sequence; lighting concealed within the wooden decking and benches also respond. An atmospheric soundscape fades in and out of concealed speakers, its volume and surround sound effect also altered by participant input.

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SQUARED – Charles Gadeken
“SQUARED is an otherworldly totem of gigantic proportions, a tree reimagined in a futuristic world post nature. By day, this black and white totem shelters attendees from the sun, providing a space for community engagement within a serene and otherworldly atmosphere. White cubes of various sizes gathered in grape-like clusters hang in the breeze. By night, the once serene sculpture evolves into an opulent and dazzling playground of fantastical proportions.”

The 45 feet tall structure holds 786 white plastic cubes arrayed in fractal clusters on a black steel square tube frame. Each cube holds 12-24 individually addressable LEDs, programmed through custom software to generate millions of colors and thousands of patterns.

The imposing structure grabs attention by day with its high contrast geometric aesthetic. By night, SQUARED is an impressive light show of riotous color. An interactive interface allows participants to control the waves of colors and patterns that sweep over the tree to create an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of light. Various patterns are available to mix and match to create each person’s own special vision. The classical music playing at the tree will be a calming influence amid the bright lights and celebration.

The fully custom touch screen interface puts the creative power into hands of the spectator.  Interactivity is enabled at sunset, with preset programs running at other times until dawn. This amazing light show with easy interactive software will pull a giant and elated crowd.

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Mars Transmitter – Kate Raudenbush
“Mars Transmitter is a receiver, an aggregator and catalyst of personal human insight. It asks humans the question: what ideas, collected from experience and knowledge within human consciousness, are worthy of being shared for the benefit of all beings? What are the highest ideals of humanity?”

The installation is a large white, metallic and mirrored laser-cut steel geometric sculpture stands about 4m high x 1.5m deep x 1.5m wide, and contains scrolling white text (in English) on an LED screen elegantly hidden behind a two-way mirror. reminiscent of both past and future.

Mars Transmitter represents a collection of global voices that aims to elevate the dialogue of humanity towards a better future. It asks for direct contemplation and interactivity with local human consciousness input. Visitors will be asked to digitally write their thoughts as an answer,  and their consciousness becomes part of the sculptures physical and virtual content.  

Separately, a website dedicated to the project collects these human elevated thoughts into a database of the best of our species, in hopes that the axiom “we are our thoughts” is shared with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, and the transmission of our human consciousness is delivered into the future.

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Compound “I” #2 – Kirsten Berg
“Vividly colored, iridescent, mirrored spheres, surfaced with lens-like convex mirrors, stack one atop the other, hinting at compound eyes of insects, forms of Buddha heads, and the Mandelbrot fractal at once, all metaphors for connection, with self and with “other”, that reflect the smaller/individual and bigger/collective ‘picture’.

Compound Eye/I #2 is a tapering pillar of mirrored spheres that are richly colored in iridescent (color-shifting) fuchsia-emerald-turquoise. These spheres stack one atop the other from the large, base sphere measuring 3.1m diameter, above which a second sphere measures 1m, the next after measures 0.45m, getting smaller to stack to an 5.5m spire.

The main base sphere is covered with many sizes of convex mirrors, as an artistic interpretation of insect eyes. The different reflections of external light sources are drawn into each convex mirror like glowing pupils which seem to follow us when we move; the effect “animates” the sculpture, giving it a presence, and to us, a different perspective than the usual “I’m looking at static art”.

Stepping away, we see our image simultaneously contract/overlap with everyone else’ onto the mosaic globes before us, into a composite of shared reflection. With the eye as instrument of reflection and the ‘I’ as object of reflection; boundaries are blurred between perspectives of inner and outer, personal and collective, to convey a picture of interconnectedness, with us as facets of a greater compound “I”.

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Cleavage in Space – Rosanna Scimeca
“Cleavage in Space was conceived as a mythological artifact; a product of a dispute between the pleasure goddess Angrboda and the trickster god Loki. Originally an adornment in the palace of the gods, the chandelier has been cast from their realm into ours by the violence of their sexual tiff. The god-sized chandelier now sits ‘crashed’ in our realm, in two pieces.  The two pieces give clues to a story of destruction and illumination.”

The sculpture consists of two parts. One is the 15.2m diameter by 11m tall, steel and fiberglass chandelier. The other a nine foot tall by nine foot wide by five foot deep ceiling rosette with pieces of the ceiling it once hung from still attached to it–wood slats and plaster, sits approximately 8m  away.

Both chandelier and rosette have giant chain links coming out of them, with the last in the row of each broken open suggesting that they once linked to each other. Both have over-sized exposed electrical wires. The internal lights flicker as if shorted out. The chandeliers arms have a mild electrical current running through them, giving a static like charge when touched.**

The chandelier sits on its side leaning onto two of its five arms and center column, with other three arms pointing toward the sky it came from. Visitors can walk under and through the arms of the chandelier.

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Memories of Home – Sema Payain
From a distance, the installation looks like something strange and incomprehensible. Intriguing design with spires, and flags;  an unimaginable skyline consisting of landmarks, and bridges.  As we get closer, we identify intriguing outlines of a city, traced on the ground. Identified spaces designated for living are called out,  creating a pattern on the ground. Above these flat lines arise bridges. These bridges connect neither to the camps nor the streets, but seem to connect the  people in this town made from dust. This city is different in form and chaotic by location. Labyrinth ties.

Walk the labyrinth, located in the central district of this city. A labyrinth  defined by multiple three dimensional objects. These objects are different and strange in shape. They are made of old, dusty monitors, each flickering with light and images, acting as an interactive gateway to memories and emotions of past years in Black Rock City. On activation with a simple click, they share a vivid, emotional memory.

They say ‘a picture is worth  a thousand words’. Each monitor will be a looking glass through which we can view a multitude of stories, through a plethora of short film clips, photographs, and some virtual reality submitted by Black Rock City citizens, each showing a facet of our unique city.

The Pool [Reflect] – Jen Lewin
The Pool [Reflect] in an adaptation of The Pool and Super Pool that uses a system of interactive, reflective dichroic platforms to create a dynamic landscape of interactive light. During the day  [Reflect] will shift in color and reflection, mirroring the sky within a walkable dichroic surface. At night,  [Reflect] will flow and glow in full illuminated interactivity, engaging large groups in collaborative and connected play.

Imagine a giant canvas where you can paint and splash light collaboratively or watch the floating clouds and sky scape shift in a monet-eque reflection.

User inputs such as foot pressure and frequency are sensed by the pad surface. Those values determine the interaction between the pads and the users by adding and subtracting light. To experience The Pool’s full color capacity, users also will need to engage with other participants.