Friday, November 20, 2009

arts & crafts at burning man festivals

Craft and Art are central to the theme here at Haute Nature.

As objects for daily use, works of decorative art allow deep insight into the culture and time in which created. Objects and their aesthetics are a human construct of representation, describing and standing for something in our reality. We create art in order to make sense of the world.

Representation began with early literary theory in the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, and has evolved into a significant component of our language, our objects and our personas. Our created goods reflect our tastes, our desires and aspirations.

As craft agenda has changed throughout time from: dogmatic ideology, skilled master and apprentice, aristocratic indulgence, social inclusion to industrialized convenience; humans have traded raw ingenuity & variety for cost margins and quick mass production.

As representation still retains its communicative nature of sending a symbolic message, the contemporary world restricts subject matter, setting boundaries that limit audiences (ie. movies) promoting a certain set of accepted ideologies and values. Within a society many of these codes or conventions are informally agreed upon and have been established over a number of years. Despite these restrictions, representations still have the ability to take on a life of their own once in the public sphere.

It is refreshing to see a venue where these obstructions for the most part are erased and there is merely "objects representing", produced, valued, viewed and exchanged. Such is the canvas of Burning Man. Year after year, it seems to be an arena for endless amount of this raw, representational craft. In the real world, craft will continue to require the underpinnings of funding allowances, protective and legal rights, tax issues, etc.. but inside the culture of Burners you'll find art and craft in a universe free from monetary agenda or definitive purpose other than expression. At BM, sculptures made from disgarded parts, giant welded insects/structures fastened together from scraps and truly whimsical concept cars ignore the inherent contradictions between craft as a lifestyle and craft as a business. There is a sense of art purely for the community at Burning Man.

Can we make a transition to a new sustainable model for art and public works that combines representation and business? What role will craft play as the world changes?
Fun resources:
Craft Council
Decorative Arts
MET Decorative Arts


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