Featured photo: Laurent Velazquez.
Burning Man has been known to feature its iconic art installs around the world. Whether it’s the fiery Incendia traveling stage, which has just about every US-based festival, or counting on seeing at least one roaming art car at EDCLV, or even an official Smithsonian art exhibition, Burning Man art is as pervasive in the festival world as vendors, campgrounds, and mainstages—even if you don’t realize you are witnessing it in the exact moment. After all, the annual pop-up oasis in Black Rock City is first and foremost an art complex.
In 2020, in spite of COVID-19 cancelling the annual gathering, several of Burning Man’s most iconic structures over the years are making their way from “the playa” to an immersive entertainment, event, and retail complex just off the Las Vegas Strip called Area 15. The 52,000 square feet art space just opened up in the Las Vegas desert, which will also house a permanent Meow Wolf exhibit in 2021, promises to give a forever home to some of Burning Man’s most beloved art pieces.
Area 15 is the brainchild of Michael Beneville, a 10-year Burning Man veteran whose dream was to bring the communal spirit of Burning Man into the “default” world. “Burning Man is its own very special thing,” Beneville told Artnet News during a virtual tour last week. “It’s 68,000 of the most creative people on the planet coming together to build something that’s just extraordinary. I’m humble enough to know that we would never try to recreate Burning Man.”
Five years in the making, the art space will house Burning Man sculptures and art of all shapes and sizes—from Davis McCarty’s iridescent “Pulse Portal” and Michael Benisty’s towering metallic couple, “In Every Lifetime I Will Find You” to Ivan McLean’s “Giant Disco” and Alchemy Arts’ “Oham.” Beneville shared his inspiration behind the Burning Man exhibit, stating that the art “shouldn’t sit in a warehouse.”