“I thought an art gallery was just pictures on the wall.”

The title of this post was overheard by FLG Colinne, and was uttered by a young kid taking in some select Burning Man art pieces. We’d like to think we’re helping dispel this myth of art being a spectator experience.

We are thrilled to be part of a larger exhibit at the Renwick Art Gallery, one of the nationally-adored Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC. The exhibit is called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man and it is currently occupying the entire Renwick and spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood.

FLG has installed art on many continents and domestically at Burning Man many many times, and now we are a part of the hallowed halls of what is considered by many to be the national museum of America. We initially suggested they allow us install the Serpent Mother on the Capitol Mall grounds… can you SEE it? A giant coiled snake, parked on the lawn, hot flames reflecting off the surface of the Washington Monument? Yeah they said no. So it looks more like this:

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photo by Rhiannon

There is a video of our work in the upstairs of the gallery. The Serpent Mother is displayed in 2D video form, featured between a room showcasing David Best’s temples, and an area with a Burning Man model, with gongs reminiscent of the Temple from 2013.

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photo by Rhiannon M

We’re in good company in this exhibit, and it’s all laid out similar to the orientation of Black Rock City. If you find yourself in Washington, DC, come check this exhibit out.

Some of our lovely FLGs traveled to Washington, DC, to attend the opening events, celebrate our inclusion in this exhibit, see the gallery, make some noise, generally doing the things we do best. Donning our signature hard hats and assorted FLG shwag, we invaded like a pink army.

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photo by Colinne

We hung out with other artists and got to see who else from our community was on display there. We took the walking tour as well, to check out the displays outside of the gallery.

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Jack Champion’s raven sculptures, “Untitled,” were very popular with us. Largely because we were so curious about how they were built. photo by Colinne H

There was an amazing lack of playa dust, but we bring it in our souls. The exhibit runs until January 2019, but if you want to see some of the exterior exhibits you will need to get there before September. Come be a part of our history.

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photo by Colinne H

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Lowen in the grip of boredom, Josh in the grip of Lowen. photo by Rhiannon M

A few more pix of our adventures in Melbourne…

Here’s a few more images that help tell the story of our journey to Melbourne, beginning with some pix of the prep work we did in the weeks before we left…

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Mills mixes the chemicals that color our liquid methanol shots. Copper chloride for green, lithium chloride for pink, potassium nitrate for purple, calcium chloride for orange. photo by Margaret.

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the pink electronics boxes that hide in the spine get a once-over check as we install a metal panel to hold their connectors in place. photo by Margaret

 

And here we are on site, installing our snake.

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Marisa appears to be locked in a sweet b-girl stall move, while she helps Steve connect a pipe in the fuel depot. photo by Margaret

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Mills grins at the barrel of fuel that appears to have splintered a pallet. not the first time, surely not the last… photo by Margaret

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Xa builds cable extensions so the buttons can reach the perimeter fence. photo by Margaret

The night of the show was an interesting experience, in that normally we have several nights of running a sculpture to tweak and replace and adjust things. At White Night, all our changes had to happen between methanol shots, as the crew swapped roles and traded places and worked different areas. It made for a different kind of dynamic performance, and it was a fun change for us.

this glorious shot was captured by photographer Mark Campbell. thanks for sharing, Mark!

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snake head! this gorgeous shot was shared to us from enthusiastic White Night attendee Prashphutita Greco. thanks, Prashphutita!

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Snakey roars above the crowd… photo by Prashphutita Greco

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the ground illuminated in an eerie green glow, lit up by a methanol shot! photo by Prashphutita Greco

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that sweet sweet feeling of closing the container. in blue and hi-viz-yellow are Natalia and George, our trusty security guards and newest FLG recruits. they kept the site safe and secure and were super pleasant to hang out with every day. thanks, friends!

 

 

… wait, one more picture. Australia is famous for its weird animals, and true to expectation, Melbourne had a few cool species of flying things hanging around the civic areas. Every night when dusk fell on our build site, the grey-headed flying foxes would come out and swoop around the tree tops. If you’re not looking closely, you’d think they’re birds, but their silhouette is unmistakable. They have an average wingspan of 3’4″ and they weigh over 2 lbs. They are the largest bat in Australia — when they land on a tree branch, the whole thing bounces under their weight. Mills got this great pic of them hanging around the river at Yarra Bend Park:

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flying foxes! photo by Mills

There’s even a bat rescue and rehab center for these guys (with a super cute Instagram). Flying foxes are really remarkable creatures, and just one of the weird biological gifts you can see in eastern Australia.

A day of rest/recovery, then strike begins…

We got a little mention from ABC news here, talking about how Snakey was a crowd favorite. And the Sydney Herald wrote a nice article about White Night, featuring a sweet image of the Serpent.

A few more pics of the show:

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A nice minimalist shot from the rooftop. photo by Josh

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A view from the fuel depot of this triple methanol shot, with Denise and Marisa in proximity suits on egg shooter duty. This was from the show we did for the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. photo by Mills.

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Slinky lights the spine. photo by Mills

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Diesel shot at dawn, after the longest night ever. photo by Milli

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This is JT, our production contact. He spent a lot of time on site with us, and we folded him into our socializing plans. One time after a particularly awesome night of partying, JT crashed out on our couch, and got renamed “Couch Roadie.” Hats off to you, friend, for enduring our company and supporting our build! photo by Mills

We spent yesterday in recovery mode after our marathon shift on Saturday night. Most of us started the day in the early afternoon and by the evening we were all gathered up again for a social gathering with the organizer liason folks who helped make our trip possible. And today we were right back at it, on site at 7am to strike the snake.

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Mills and Denise team-torquing on a pipe, Carolyn massaging electrons, Slinky singing love songs to the manifold, Margaret whispering dirty things to the nitrogen tanks in the fuel depot. photo by Diane.

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Marisa secures the sling to a vertebrae section, while Margaret steadies the ladder. photo by Mills

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Crew shot! In the blue hat on the left is Shaye, our site manager. Couch Roadie is holding our White Night site marker. And your Melbourne Snake crew from L to R atop the propane tank: Diane, Ted, Denise, Mills, Sam with the ears, Milli. Ground row: Slinky, Marisa, Margaret, Xa, Carolyn and Steve with the flamingo, our newest crew member. There are 5 people flexing with pipe wrenches in this photo, can you find them all?

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Mills and Margaret mugging with the AGA permits, which allow us to run our sculpture. Margaret is holding a special trophy that she earned for her undying efforts in answering hundreds of technical plumbing questions, in the weeks leading up to our trip. Did you know that Gmail batches email conversations by the hundreds? Bravo, Margaret.

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Mills and Margaret pointing at our safety sticker on our trusty vaporizer Joulie. photo by Mills

 

Twelve hour marathon show: White Night Melbourne, 2018

Friends, it is nearly 7am Melbourne time, and your humble author has absolutely no business still being awake. Our heroic final shift is wrapping up the last shot of the night as I type this — our final line-cleansing diesel shot. Here are some images that summarize the last 2 days. There will be more, better ones in the days to come, but the short version is that we CRUSHED IT. The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull even turned up, and took a front row spot to watch our 2nd methanol shot of the night.

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Margaret fills the big pressure vessel.

Despite some weird unforeseen problems here and there, we met every challenge with some sort of solution, and they very nearly all WORKED! The people of Melbourne thoroughly enjoyed pushing the buttons, driving the head, and gawking at the brilliant methanol shots. And from the fuel depot, despite a few weird hiccups, we had a damn blast.

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Steve H got this nice pic of a clean, strong diesel shot.

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Ted took this chaotic photo from the fuel depot, atop the scaffolding for our pressure vessel.

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This black plume of death triggered the particulate smoke detectors at the Melbourne Museum. So even though we’d called the Fire Brigade ahead of time to warn them, they still had to come out for this little mess we caused. Ugh. Sssssssorry everybody.

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Plume of death. photo by Ted.

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Michael Matione emailed us with this amazing pic of the huge diesel plume we caused from our daytime shots. Damn we made a little mess here.

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Not one, but two (2) fire trucks.

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Fire brigade, on site. Sorry about that, guys.

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We are IN COMPLIANCE and safe af.

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Members of the Melbourne Fire Brigade chatting about controlled burns, in front of our yellow container which held all our methanol and diesel.

We enjoyed the entirety of Saturday off, to rest up ahead of our 6:30p call time. According to FLG historians, twelve hours is the longest continuous show we’ve ever done. This is an incomplete version of how it looked — as folks share more images with me in the coming days, I will add them too.

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The White Night folks were able to bring a small group of us up onto the roof of the building across from the museum, where Denise got this pic of Snakey shooting methanol.

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We froze our gigantor 4200L liquid propane tank. This is a first for us. Ohhhh physics, why you even gotta.

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In an attempt to unfreeze our big propane tank, we spent a while hosing it down with water. It made a biiiig muddy mess, and it made us miss our adventures in Calgary.

 

More to come. First tho… sleep.