AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

Art at the Burn

So you want to build one of those world beating art pieces for display on the playa at Quaggafontein? Here’s a handy guide from a veteran of the process.

O.H. Martin, structural engineering consultant to Pipedreams, Gaia’s Song and Transcendence. Note the Playa dust on his shoes.

You have dreamed big. You have an idea for a mind bogglingly creative idea for an art piece. Here’s an expert’s guide to the fulfilment of your dreams.

  1. Make friends with Isa Marques. As Art Coordinator she will guide you as no other. And respect her talent. Her spurs have been earned the hard way.
  2. Start buying chocolate in bulk. The hard nosed AfrikaBurn accountants dole out grant money very sparingly.  They cannot be bribed with money but chocolate might work.
  3. Start making lists of all your friends who have ever demonstrated any physical talents or have spare money. Even those who are good cooks or can count to ten. Ignore those who like to suntan at the pool with a daiquiri in their hand.  The key here is a lot of work is required long before you get to the desert so even those who don’t want to attend AfrikaBurn are eligible.
  4. Begin the big scrounge for materials. Forget new stuff. You will never have enough money unless you have won the Lotto.  Second hand wood is available if you are alert but be warned stealing it is best left to the professionals.
  5. Buy a big house or find a generous friend with space available. Preferably with neighbours who aren’t pernickety about noise. A decent solar electrical system is handy through all the interminable power blackouts but a generator will do in a pinch.
  6. Collect decent power tools. Without them you are destined never to finish. And keep them well locked up with patrolling killer dogs as they are favourite targets of the aforementioned “professionals”.
  7. Stock up on snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. An army marches on its stomach and your build team is no exception. What worked for Napoleon will work for you.
  8. Establish a committee. It will never decide on anything but will make everyone think they are irreplaceably important.
  9. Use positive reinforcement to keep the troops motivated. Psychology is cheaper than money. If all else fails threaten extortion if you know any dark secrets.
  10. Draw up a critical path plan to ensure the project will be completed on time. It will look pretty on the wall. But know that 80% of the completion will happen in the last 2 weeks anyway.
  11. Expect lots of broken promises. The list of lame excuses will astonish you. Grannies passing on multiple times will happen more than once. People have short memories.
  12. Create a happy vibe. Even when you feel like killing people. It will happen more than once.
  13. Provide music. It soothes the soul.
  14. Now you’ve hit D Day and it’s time to trek thousands of kilometres to the middle of nowhere. Ensure that you have a spare truck on standby in the event the first one breaks down. It has happened. And the Burn will not wait for you.
  15. Remind your armada to take their tickets and gate passes. The Hek is guarded by the fiercest custodians to entry. And sleeping outside the gate is no fun.
  16. Enjoy the scrawny desert people who have been there for weeks before you. The DPW are a hardy bunch who will help enormously when things go wrong. Know that they can be grumpy in the morning. Approach with caution.
  17. Enjoy the biggest moment of your life when everything goes up in smoke. You will have made a lot of new friends. A good thing as some of your old ones will have moved on.

Carpe diem (as 2024 is just around the corner).

OH Martin
May 2023

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