The Art Of Burning Man Comes To Cincinnati

Jan 8, 2019

While some may view it as that weird thing that happens in the desert, Burning Man continues to thrive as an experiment in community each summer in Nevada, and the art that comes out of it can be radical and push boundaries.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is bringing part of the cultural movement to the Queen City with No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, opening in two phases April 26 and June 1.

For the uninitiated, Burning Man is a week-long event where participants erect a temporary city outside of Reno that explores concepts of community and artistic self expression, culminating with the ritual burning a of giant "man" sculpture. It attracts some 70,000 participants each year.

Marco Cochrane, "Truth is Beauty," 2017.
Credit Photo by Ron Blunt

The exhibit features large-scale sculptures, jewelry, video and photography and "will take over much of the museum, exploring the maker culture, ethos, principles and creative spirit of Burning Man," the museum says in a statement. It will also include "giant mutant art vehicles," costumes and "immersive gallery-sized installations."

Jill Dunne, director of marketing and communications, calls the exhibit exciting because of that immersive quality.

"This is going to be one of the most interactive exhibitions we've had at the Cincinnati Art Museum," says Dunne. "Visitors are going to be able to feel and experience the art that usually you have to travel all the way to Nevada to see in person."

That's right, feel. Visitors will be able to touch some of the art. 

"It is one of the most influential movements in contemporary American art and culture," says Museum Director Cameron Kitchin. "The visual culture created in conjunction with the Burning Man gathering each year is a democratic and inclusive model of artistic expression. Working with the thinkers and artists who create the culture challenges the very notion of an art museum."

Dunne says the setting also makes for some interesting juxtaposition.

"We're going to have some of these modern works next to, [for example], a Degas, and you're going to be able to see it in that context and really appreciate what contemporary artists are doing now," says Dunne.

In keeping with the Burning Man ethos, the exhibit is free. It's also kid-friendly. 

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, "The Paper Arch," 2018.
Credit Photo by Ron Blunt