PAINTING 50,000 HONEYBEES ACROSS THE US AND BEYOND
Black Rock City, Nv
Day One-ish: Arrival & First Build Day
At long last, we have arrived! Black Rock City has already been under way for weeks and weeks, teams of people working around the clock to lay out the city grid. Mapping out an orderly system in the middle of a blank canvas for 80,000 people can’t be easy, but they seem to know what they’re doing :)
After finally “arriving” at getting our first glimpse of the playa the reality of being in line for a long time began setting in, not only for us, but our neighbors in line as well.
Even though sitting in line isn’t anything anyone chooses to do for fun, there is a certain kind of magic that only occurs in that very specific kind of liminal space. We’re all here because we’re trying to go somewhere else yet here we all are for now. Some of the most fascinating conversations seems to come from these kind of spaces - movie theater ticket line, the people next to you on a plane, grocery store check out, they all provide different versions of captive audience and different opportunties for connection.
And also sometimes the “captive” part of being in line lends itself to multiple deep stretches, aimless wandering amidst other heavily-laden vehicles and the growing need to pee, yet again.
We humans really do, despite all our frustrated objections, need structure and order. Even in the desert we need miles of flag fence just to know what general direction to head in :)
Upon arrival to our camp we were immediately jumping in on the work camp set up. Before we even had time to put together our own tent we were jumping into the work truck and headed out onto the playa for the first night of build.
Our new friend Orielle who we had known for all of 5 minutes was already demonstrating her skills in humor, bicycling and cardiovascular capability, amongst many other things. Needless to say, Orielle is pretty great.
Nathaniel in his mutually felt virgin burner glory. All of us, especially the virgin burners, had smiles plastered across our faces throughout the entire night as the full scope and scale of Burning Man began to set in. This place is huge. HUGE.
Did we say HUGE?!
As the sun went down behind the jagged mountain peaked skyline to our west, the low rumble of music and flicker of lights started to build in the distance.
To the east a full view of the Temple, it’s walls waiting to be adorned by countless intentions put to paper. Over the course of Burning Man each individual has the opportunity to visit the Temple and rest, reflect, restore, do whatever is needed.
The playa has a way of bringing to the surface that which needs to be looked at, what needs to be let go of, what needs to be given more attention.
This spiritual aspect to Burning Man was a large part of why we decided to go in the first place. The intensity of all of it was only just beginning to be revealed.
Time to get down to work! The walls all came ready to be assembled and put up after a years worth of inspiration, planning, designing, modeling, and constructing. Such an incredible effort bringing people together to produce what only a collective could pull off.
Also, sometimes the camera settings are left in a less than optimal position and then handed off to beautifully helpful friends to take photos. This was one of those times. So, let’s just pretend that this effect was an intentional choice to represent the movement and pace of our work flow :)
The moment has come for the drill. And there will be many more moments to come.
Realizations are being made. So we have power coming in from over there, but not for a little while. Always thinking about camera batteries, always…
The walls were designed well, oftentimes synonymous with simply. In this case the walls were easy to lift and easy to connect, simple aka amazing!
For the short few minutes we had known the group of people, we were all doing remarkably well working together already. The energetic buzz in the air of a group coming together after a long time preparing, now that is a special thing to be apart of.
Generator tinkering would become a daily theme during our time on the playa. Thank goodness we had a generator (and power from it) to tinker with!
Everything set and ready to go…
Now we just need more hands to lift!
And more hands were easy to find!
Having a large group of helpful, hard working people around makes for fun work. Things getting done with a lot of laughter throughout.
The colors in this place were indescribable. The blank canvas of desert was washed in orange and yellow and pink amongst many others every night, beyond sublime.
Everyone who comes to Burning Man can choose their own “burner name” or “playa name”. Meet Silver, the man and the myth who also happens to be Elizabeth’s father (you’ll meet her soon). Silver was one of the kindest and most caring people in our camp, always up for helping in whatever way was needed, bringing his specific skills in construction and an ever-present willingness to have a meaningful conversation.
Andddddd here’s Elizabeth! Meet our magical and fearless leader Elizabeth, HIGH PRIESTESS of the Bee Divine Hive Temple and one of the two original women who initiated this massive project. From the very beginning of our time on this collaborative project (including the months of dialogue leading up to Burning Man) Elizabeth provided clarity, direction and excitement steeped in poise and patience.
Also, she knows how to handle herself on a job site, no doubt about it.
Also, it’s a little chilly in the desert at night.
Nothing a little improvised tai chi/movement/flow can’t handle!
Catching a few stolen smooches in the background!
ps Nathaniel and Elizabeth are partners, in case you hadn’t figured that out yet :)
Niko was yet another dynamo in our camp. Endlessly knowledgeable and willing to do whatever needed doing, this man brought 150% to the temple build, to the kitchen, to the everything he did and he did a lot.
Each one of the wall sections or panels were hand woven by many of the women on this project, hours and hours of work to produce gorgeous tapestries for each surface of the temple. Each panel went up in a very clean, white condition. How the desert would interact with them was yet to be seen…
Discussing a little strategy. To keep going or to sleep, aka go back and set up camp?
You can wear (or not wear) whatever you want at Burning Man!
Including big, fuzzy bumblebee hats made by Niko himself!
Silver of course is rocking a stellar silver jacket. Kind of a members only meets silver surfer vibe.
The mental and physical slow down has begun to settle in, now for a few last minute details and clean up!
Keeping everything organized is no joke when it has to go back in to the work truck overnight and then back out right away again tomorrow morning. Details!
But at least they are very whimsically adorned details!
Final panel is going up with the help of none other than Zilla, the other one of two women who originated and initiated the Bee Divine Hive Temple project.
Zilla is the real deal, a multi-disciplinary artist and maker, on top of the details while attentive and patient to the process. So much of the design and construction of the temple was under her care and we were all grateful for it. Truly a leader who leads by example.
Also, Zilla and Elizabeth are kinda the best together.
MattyBee hard at work on all fronts. Building, organizing, artistry, installation, clean up, the list goes on and he with it. Business as usual!
Niko finding super human strength with the special powers of the bumblebee at his back.
Last few things before we are headed back to camp to set up and eventually, hopefully, maybe, get some sleep.
An incredible day behind us, we finally arrived at Burning Man and already jumped in on the first day/night of work at the temple.
Seeing all of the lights coming up on the horizon that first night really began to communicate the magnitude of what was about to happen, we had no idea just how big it really was going to bee…