Released just in time for this year’s annual Burning Man festival–which begins August 30th and runs through September 5th, 2015, photographer and writer NK Guy’s Art of Burning Man photo book is to-date the most comprehensive, creative, illustrious collection of images from the tribal gathering held each year in the Nevada desert. While several other books have published images from the annual gathering of misfits, artists, and performers, this is the first book to serve not only as a colorful representation of the event, but also as a reference guide to the gathering’s monumental art installations, people, and events from loyal attendee’s point of view.
As described by publisher Taschen: With a location deep in the Nevada desert and tickets sold out in a matter of minutes, Burning Man may well be the world’s most hard to get to festival.
Set 100 miles from the gambling town of Reno, the annual gathering has acquired many different meanings for many different people: Temporary community, spiritual adventure, performance stage, desert rave, social experiment. Each year, it has also hosted some of the largest and most outlandish site-specific art ever made.
For 16 years, photographer NK Guy has made the journey to Burning Man to photograph its sculptures, installations, and eponymous Burning Man effigies. Art of Burning Man gathers the best of this pyrotechnic portfolio, offering a record (and a tantalizing taste) of one of the most uninhibited and expressive happenings on the planet.
Started as a small solstice gathering in San Francisco in 1986, Burning Man grew and was forced out of the confines of fire-hazard weary officials. The faithful band of creators and followers relocated to Black Rock Desert, Nevada in 1991, and NK Guy has attended since 1998. His photography serves not as a form of exploitation, but as a means of documenting an emerging counterculture. That first desert gathering consisted of a mere 250 people. Burning Man now hosts nearly 70,000 sun-loving, music-making, art-appreciating attendees, complete with dozens of spectacular lighting and pyro art installations, hundreds of themed camps, and (gasp!) rules.
The photo selections, subject groupings, and quality of the book all lend themselves to the thoughtfulness and care Guy has not only for his photography, but for the gathering as well. Guy’s essays wax nostalgic and knowledgeable as a long-time Burning Man attendee. His writings also explain the labor of love that goes into each year’s event and creations. Each photo caption demonstrates his respect for the people, happenings, and creations of Burning Man—opposite of so many other photo essays that come across as gawking. The tribe of Burning Man are a proud and protective community, known to be territorial of the festival’s culture. The access and comfort they show in Guy’s images show their respect for him and his work as both a long-time festival attendee and photographer.
Having attended and documented Burning Man from its first days in the desert, Guy’s Art of Burning Man clearly demonstrates an insider’s perspective. Additionally, the photography is truly as celebratory and otherworldly as the festival itself. If one cannot attend the dance in the desert, Guy’s collection of images and essays serves as the best possible substitute to understanding the art, meaning, and people of Burning Man. And while a handful of other book-bound photo collections of Burning Man have been published, none containing the artistry with which Guy gives every single photo. Art of Burning Man is more than just a collection of images, each photo holds its own as a work of art.
The hefty, color-rich photo book can be purchased directly from the book’s publisher, Taschen: Art of Burning Man.