AfrikaBurn 2023: 24 to 30 April

Taking art to Burning Man – AfrikaBurn Fire Collective update

Photo by Gabby Farias

(words: Graeme Allen, photos: [above] Gabby Farias [below] John Curley)

Remember the incredible kinetic fireshow that was the highlight of AfrikaBurn 2013? That show now forms the core of VLAM / ODD I SEE, which our AfrikaBurn Fire Collective will be performing at Burning Man in only a couple of weeks. The excitement is running high – other than being a truly spectacular show, this initiative will foster great new relationships that will continue to fuel creatives fires across our global community. As things go into hyperdrive for all involved, here’s an update from Graeme Allen, one of the organisers of the whole shebang:
“The container has arrived and sits on the playa! It’s high time we had an update, but there seems to be a little confusion around our whole mission, so I’m writing this to fill everyone in and clear up any misunderstandings. In the interests of being transparent to our community, here’s all the info.
The AfrikaBurn Fire Collective has been formed from various groups of artists, producers and AfrikaBurn organisational leaders to produce a show collaboratively. We’re taking a unique form of art and expression of AfrikaBurn to Burning Man in the United States. We have received honorarium funding form Burning Man as a starting point, and have raised money in 2 or 3 different fundraising events. We’ve also been given money from private donors and a grant from AfrikaBurn.
All in all the exercise of taking the show to BM has cost R560 000.

Photo by John Curley

We’re currently R110 000 short of this. Most of this is to complete the promise of supporting key artists who have dedicated large amounts of time and with little means of recouping this money due to having to take so much time off their day jobs to making this happen. We have made allowance for part funding of artists who were fundamental to the project, who could not make it over without assistance. We have allocated R12 000 grants to the various artists that from the beginning indicated that they would need assistance. We will fundraise this on our return.
We are currently short of R23 000 in order to bring the container back home, which we need to do as we have important and expensive items in it, including our DPW tent and generator. If we don’t bring it home smoothly we’ll be penalised a large sum for storage. Plans have been put in place to underwrite this to alleviate the pressure. Thanks go out to Carel Nolte for his help with this.
The container needs to get to our Tankwa site on arrival for storage and a keepsake of what is possible. We’ll be asking people to write a note to AfrikaBurn on the container so it can forever remind us that we are part of something bigger than many realise. As you can imagine the costs are high. It costs each person traveling to the States R24 000 plus (most of which is allocated to airfare).
No Director of AfrikaBurn or Member has received funding in order to make the trip over to the United States. All funds have been allocated to material and transport. This is with the exception of Simon O’Callahan, who has dedicated huge amounts of time building and then rebuilding Lizzy (the T-Rex) after her being destroyed at AfrikaBurn and for dedicating so much time and equipment in filming the progress and interviews that will eventually become a documentary of this epic project. Of the rest of us travelling as representatives of AfrikaBurn everyone, including 5 Directors and the majority of Leads in various portfolios, will be paying their own way.

Photo by John Curley

‘Why would one put so much into such a project?’ you may ask. It’s a good question.
The intention of this project has always been to bridge a gap that I feel has existed between us and Burning Man for some time. Most if not all of the artists have never been to a Burn outside of AfrikaBurn. The Burner culture is prolific, but most of the organisational leads of AfrikaBurn have not been to Burning Man before. So, this project will enable the ties between Burning Man and AfrikaBurn to deepen; it will hopefully inspire some of our leading artists to push their boundaries further, and nurture new relationships and collaborations with other artists from around the world. It’s also to foster friendships that will hopefully entice prolific Burning Man artists to come and show what they do at AfrikaBurn. It’s also important for our organisational leads to meet with their counterparts in Burning Man’s organisation to learn from each other and garner knowledge that will help them in their roles here and to bring back institutional knowledge that will move us forward.
The group going now number 46 people, and we’re all staying at Fractal Planet, a camp consisting of a mixture of transformative festivals from across the world. These include AfrikaBurn (South Africa), Boom (Portugal), Earth Frequency (Australia), Enchanted Forest (USA), Envision (Costa Rica), Lucidity (USA), Ometeotl (Mexico), Rainbow Serpent (Australia) and Sonic Bloom (USA).
The bridge is being created that will allow South African Burners easier access to Burning Man in the future through this camp. It will allow for SA Burner artists to showcase their work at Burning Man in the future if they so desire. Hopefully Fractal Planet will be attending AfrikaBurn next year in some form or fashion. It’s a unique opportunity to showcase what AfrikaBurn is about to the greater international community.
At Everywhere Pavilion, we’ll be introduced to all the Regional contacts that gather there from around the world – the relationship building possibilities are huge. From the beginning this is what I have envisaged and it is now at the brink of happening. I feel that it’s going to inspire those that are going and those that will wish to in the future.
We’ve filmed everything and are planning to make a documentary out of this that can be shown around the world. Thanks to everyone who has assisted us so far on this epic mission – rest assured we’ll fly the flag high in Black Rock City!”
WILL YOU BE AT BURNING MAN THIS YEAR? Here are the show times:
Pendulum swings at 7:30pm
Brendhan Dickerson’s ‘Complicit’ show, with Android Jones’s lightshow, follows at 8:30pm
Pendulum swings again at 10pm
The full VLAM / ODD I SEE show starts at 10:30pm – DON’T MISS IT!
(thanks to Meghan Rutigliano, John Curley and Gabby Farias for their help with sourcing images for this post)

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