THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man | KALW

THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man

 

In 2019, longtime Burner David Boyer went with a group of reporters to try and capture Burning Man. A year later, the event has been cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

In this 9-part series, we go beyond the sex, drugs and Instagram posts of the culutral phenomenon and try to understand why upwards of 80,000 people trek to a remote patch of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert most years. 

We’ll experience the building of an art car and the DMV (the Department of Mutant Vehicles). We’ll go on an airplane ride with mobility challenged Burners (yes, there’s an airport). We'll experience the building of the Temple and meet a group of Chrisitans on the playa. We’ll experience big art and a Black Lives Matter protest. And we'll reflect on the history of the global community that started right here in the Bay Area.

The good news: You won’t have to deal with the heat or the dust. 

 

This is a co-production of KALW and THE INTERSECTION. It is edited by Ben Trefny and Lisa Morehouse — with assists from Jenee Darden, Jonathan Davis, Jessie Weiner, Heidi Dorow, and Gabe Grabin, who also engineered the series.

Que Viva Camp

One of the principles guiding Burning Man is "Radical Inclusion." Basically, all are welcome. But, the temporary city that Burners build in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert has never been racially diverse. Just 1% of attendees self-identify as Black.

Ep 08 - PRESENT meets PAST at Burning Man

Sep 1, 2020
LUCY KANG

Every year — in normal years — thousands of people trek to Black Rock Desert in Nevada for Burning Man. But, most don’t know about the history of the land or the people who were its original inhabitants. In this episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man, we learn more about the history of the Pyramid Lake Paiutes and the relationship between the event and the tribe.

Ep 07 - REVELRY meets REVERENCE at Burning Man

Aug 31, 2020
Photo by Jamen Percy

If the wooden man effigy represents Burning Man’s cosmic and comic core, the Temple is its heart and soul. A place where people come to honor and grieve, Burning Man’s Temple has become a potent and sacred space in the middle of nowhere. In this episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man, we hear why Burners have such a strong attachment to a temporary structure that’s little more than wood and nails.

Burning Man is known for its massive, Instagram-friendly art installations that are a stark contrast to the beige, desert backdrop. There are also many smaller projects, labors of love that can easily get lost. In this episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man, we discover one of them. To the naked eye, it looks like an old phone on a dusty table. What awaits those who pick it up? Find out.

David Boyer / KALW

Burning Man is pagan at its core with a hell-ish aesthetic. It's understandable that many evangelical leaders condemn the event. But why do so many devout Christians attend each year? And what do they do once they're there? In this episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man, we meet the priests and apostles of Religous AF camp, who are on a mission to help other Burners heal their spiritual wounds.

Morgan Lieberman

Burning Man is guided by the so-called "10 Princples," one of which is radical inclusion. What does that mean for people with disabilities? Especially at an event that spans seven-square miles of cracked desert, and the most common forms of transit are biking and walking. In this episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man, we meet a Burner with limited vision and a camp for people with mobility issues.

 

Peter Field

1996 was a turning point for Burning Man. It was also the last year co-founder John Law attended. Two people were run over in their tents. And another person died in a head-on collision right before the gates opened. The next year, organizers tried to tame the chaos with a bunch of new rules and a grid of streets. It was too much of a compromise for Law. So, he walked away. In this episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man, we talked about that and more at his office in Tribune Tower in Oakland.

Ep 02 - ART meets MOTION at Burning Man

Nov 12, 2019
Robin Damore

This episode of THE INTERSECTION at Burning Man begins where art meets motion. Burning Man hasn’t officially started but there’s plenty going on: Camps are being set up, art is being erected and a family of first-time art car makers is hustling to finish up their vehicle. But they can’t actually drive it until it’s approved by the DMV. As in the Department of Mutant Vehicles.

THE INTERSECTION looks at changing cities through physical intersections. This time we’re doing something different: The city is temporary and the intersections are conceptual. We’re going to a remote corner of Nevada for Burning Man. Producer David Boyer has been going to since 1996. He's heading back with a mission: to capture the event before it's over or loses all connection to its origins.