The towering artwork and wild structures of Burning Man are already taking shape - take a look

The towering artwork and wild structures of Burning Man are already taking shape - take a look

Burning Man 2017

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

A structure at Burning Man 2017.

  • Burning Man, the nine-day event that lures more than 70,000 people to Black Rock City, Nevada, officially began on Sunday.
  • Art is an integral part of Burning Man - unique art structures and enormous installations are built on the playa annually. 
  • The art theme for Burning Man 2019 is metamorphoses.
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Burning Man 2019 is underway, and with it comes the unbelievable art installations that are a hallmark of the event.

Art is an integral part of Black Rock City, which is the Burning Man community constructed in the middle of the Nevada desert. Unique art structures and enormous installations are built on the playa annually, and this year's artwork follows the theme of metamorphoses.

"Two thousand years before Kafka's Gregor Samsa woke up as a cockroach, Ovid, the literary bad boy of First Century Rome, was writing about metamorphoses dire and diverse," says Burning Man's explanation for its 2019 art theme.

"Burning Man is a million stories, and the through-line across them all is change," the explanation continues. "Transformation happens whether we believe in it or not; but if we have learned anything in our Burning Man experience it is that we do have a say in our own futures, that agency is ours if we choose to pursue it."


Read more: This livestream lets you watch everything that's going on at Burning Man from the comfort of your living room

For the uninitiated, Burning Man is a nine-day art festival in the middle of the desert in Nevada. The festival has taken place every year since 1986, and includes performances, art installations, music, and partying. The event draws as many as 70,000 people, including celebrities, tech moguls, and everyone in between - attendees are known as Burners.

There's no money allowed at Burning Man, so attendees are asked to barter or give gifts in exchange for what they need, and because guests are asked to "leave no trace," everything attendees bring - including the art they built - they must also bring out.

Check out the metamorphoses-themed art, installations, and structures being constructed at Burning Man: 


This is "The Folly," a carnival village.

"The Folly is a carnival village, an imaginary shanty town, built around a clock tower and a windmill," reads the description of the Black Rock City structure by Dave Keene. "Like a medina, this interactive structure will be a complicated network of passageways, ladders, tunnels, cargo nets, secret doors and hidden rooms. While there will be many ways to enter, only a few paths will access the central courtyard."

The "accessible public sanctuary space" has a courtyard intended for performance, burlesque, and music opportunities.

"Budget permitting, fish and chips will be served with bad cockney accents, courtesy of English Jonny," the description says.

This structure has ballet pointe shoes and a sewing machine for the forthcoming "Dreyma" dance performance project.

This structure was also made by Dave Keene — it's for the debut performance "Dreyma" by Marlowe Bassett and Tracy Windisch.


This is "the Man," which gets burned on Saturday — hence, "Burning Man."

Olivia Steele's "Art Park" has a burning sign reading "I wish you were here."

According to Steele's Instagram, "Art Park" is an "immersive outdoor gallery comprised of 11 installations." The project represents Steele's transition away from their usual neon installations.

Art Park's main piece, a large-scale fireplace made of hand-bent iron filled with propane gas, reads "I wish you were here."


This is "Slonik," a 75-foot, neon green, inflatable elephant bringing attention to elephant abuse and endangerment in Africa and Asia.

"Slonik" is the diminutive form of "elephant" (slon) in Russian. Michael Tsaturyan is the artist behind Slonik.

"Playa Harvey" is a response to the now-annual "Playa Barbie" art installation.

"Barbie is a plastic aesthetic that degrades the Burning Man culture with a false identity and unrealistic proportions," reads the description of Steve Landis' piece "Playa Harvey," which is a response to the "Playa Barbie" now-annual art installation.

"Radical inclusion is not poorly defined gender stereotypes and artificial visions that upset the moral arc of the universe bending towards realistic body shapes and non-binary gender roles," the description says.


This is titled "The Temple of Direction."

"The Temple of Direction" by Geordie Van Der Bosch "is organized linearly" as "linearity also reflects the passage of life," according to the structure's description.

"It creates a restricted passage which expands in the center into a large hall" that provides "a bright area suitable for gatherings or performances with a staggered edge for peripheral participation."

"Talking Heads" is an abstract, reflective statue.

"The viewer can experience a multiplicity of meanings, depending on what goes on inside their own heads," the sculpture's description reads. "Talking Heads can show the power of imagination to lead us into a metaphysical and magical experience of metamorphosis."


Some of the art doesn't appear to have a name listed online, like this cabana with a chandelier ...