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The un-explainable fire

Images of iconic counter culture on MY Place gallery walls all month long.

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What: The Wild Life of Burning Man

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Opening party Thursday, August 5, 7 — 10 p.m. Exhibit on display through the end of August.

"Trying to explain what Burning Man to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind." — The official Burning Man ‘First Timer’s Guide’ www.burningman.com.

Burning Man.

A yearly gathering in the Nevada Desert numbering close to 30,000? A celebration of life and creativity? A utopian society based on barter and the concept of living for the present? A debaucherous collective of stoned freaks that deserve to be rounded up by the National Guard?

The legend of its origins, approaching mythical status as the years go by, is one place to start.

In 1986 two San Franciscans held a ceremony on a local beach wherein they burned a wooden replica of a man to symbolize inner cleansing. The concept caught fire with other self-reflective souls and in the next few years, more and more came out to feel the release of the Burning Man flames.

But the intensity began to crowd the urban setting. In the year of the fourth burn (0004 A.B.) the police intervened citing fire hazards. According to the online chonicles an unsettling roadside attraction vibe was prevalent.

Things fell apart.

Only to be put back together stronger than before.

The die was cast for the event’s move to the desert – a barren place with no indications of past, present or future, no conveniences, no disapproving statutes, no limitations.

And since then, the event continues to grow and flourish.

People come from all over the world. But Burning Man is not a vacation. It’s an experience. An experiment. A pilgrimmage.

A dust bowl.

Black Rock City appears the week prior to and including Labour Day weekend. Then disappears...

The eye of the creative storm is the Man. A construction wonder magnified several times since its birth on the San Francisco beach, lit up and looming above like Gulliver over the Lilliputians until the last day when it is consumed by the ritual flames.

In the meantime, the Lilliputians run amok with their creative energy in a way only possible in the Black Rock Desert.

Fantasy, sci-fi and lo-fi, transformations, animations, fire breathing vehicular creations, revelations, art for art’s sake and art for function’s sake. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, anything goes.

Those who are not offended by its brazenness are destined to come home inspired.

There are Burners among us in Whistler. Among them: Arts Council President John Hewson, who has been inspired to bring some Burning Man to the rather proper walls of the upstairs gallery at MY Place for the month of August.

The exhibit is not an Arts Council project. Nevertheless, Hewson is who he is. Many in his position would shy away from the intersection of community culture and wild counter culture. Those people haven’t been to Burning Man.

The MY Place exhibit – Wild Life of Burning Man – is but a glimpse. Think Burning Man – The Viewfinder Edition.

"The theme of last year was Beyond Belief and the experience was totally beyond belief," Hewson said. "You cannot explain it, you cannot capture it on film, you cannot describe it. You have to experience it. This photo show is to give you little samples of what it might look like."

Exhibiting alongside Hewson, an all-local creative tour de force of past Burners that includes Xandra Grayson, Christian Kessner, Allan Crawford and creative couple Chili Thom and KLC Nash.

An opening night party this Thursday, August 5 organized by Kessner, Thom and Nash features drumming and music, screenings of a Burning Man film by Grayson, slideshows by Thom, and Nash’s whimsical fashion creations and signature flower-petal chapeaux. The exhibitors encourage those attending to get into the spirit. Wear something bizarre, bring something created to give away freely or exchange. Be something. Do something. Try something. Do or do not, there is no try something.

In the wake of the opening, the Wild Life of Burning Man images will remain on display through the end of the month, coming down when Burning Man 2004 begins on August 30.

See you there.

RMOW Councillor’s Wildlife accompanies Wild Life of Burning Man

Whistler lawyer and RMOW Councillor Nick Davies will also be exhibiting photographs at MY Place through the month of August.

A veteran sharp shooter of 30 years, Davies has acquired an extensive collection of nature photographs from all over the world.

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