This is Burning Man. Every year at the end of August, 50,000 people gather for an arts festival in the Black Rock Desert, a barren lakebed in northern Nevada. Together they build and populate a city, three miles across, that rises out of the dust before disappearing without a trace a week later. With a focus on self-expression in all its forms, Burning Man is one of the most extreme and beautiful festivals in the world.
Those who make it here must practise radical self-reliance by bringing along all the food, water and shelter that they need to survive in the desert. Everything must be shipped in and out along winding two-lane roads across an Indian reservation outside Reno, or into a temporary airport. Thousands of burners go far beyond the basics of survival by bringing art installations, bars, workshops, sound systems or food to feed their neighbours, creating a gift economy where nothing can be bought or sold bar the American staples of ice and coffee.
Pictured: “The Transformoney Tree” by Dadara from Amsterdam, one of the few political pieces at Burning Man. Participants brought a dollar bill and defaced it to glue on the tree, negating the monetary value but creating artistic value