Press "Enter" to skip to content

Burning Man To Connect Occupy/TEA Movements In Funded Art Project

The Burning Man organization, host of an annual event expected to attract over 60,000 participants to a dry lakebed northeast of Reno later this month (see: has provided funding to an art project titled “Burn Wall Street” with the following description:

Burn Wall Street is a large scale, outdoor art installation that is sprouting powerful conversations countrywide.  By bringing individuals from the Occupy and Tea Party movements together, this project asks participants to put their political identities aside in order to talk about common principles and goals for financial reform.  Forged from the financial unrest and injustice that has incensed the American public, Burn Wall Street’s core intention is built on participation, one of the Ten Principles of Burning Man.  . . . This art project is sponsored by Veterans for Peace, a 501c3 non-profit. . . . We see the Tea Party and the Occupy movements as very similar. They are both well-intentioned groups of Americans that know that things must change.  Unfortunately, one group has been hijacked by Right-wing extremists and the other by Left-wing extremists, and both groups have been used as pawns through the use of political wedges to keep each other from the actual goal of reforming Wall Street and saving our economy. . . .  So BWS is asking these disparate groups to put down their Bibles and their Communist Manifestos in order to unite, share ideas and come up with actual solutions from a rational perspective.

BWS will consist of 5 buildings and a central park. . . .

The NYSE. The main building is the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Its façade will replicate the infamous porch under a giant American flag where people can dress for success and be or pretend to be 1%ers jeering at the hippies across the way. Inside the NYSE will be the stairs to the balcony and the deck where “the bell” will be wrung each morning at 9am. At that bell ringing, there will be a key note speaker who will discuss their viewpoint and present possible solutions. Every day, this guest will address one of the many issues that affect our economy. Speakers will share diverse perspectives, and each intends to provoke meaningful conversation.

The Park. The center part of the art installation is the park. We are naming this community space “Tecate Park” after the cheep Mexican beer (which conveniently rhymes with the iconic Zuccotti Park). It will be ringed by lights and benches with a bull sculpture at the front center. The bull will have internal lighting and will glow red at night. We will also be setting up a small mock encampment in the center of the park. We are confident this encampment will attract participants to protest.

The Bill of Rights. On the ground in the park and in front of the entrance to the NYSE building will be the Bill of Rights. Its location represents how bankers and traders tread on the Constitution on their way in to sell off our country. We hope that participants will take a moment to study the Bill of Rights, understand their own rights, and how this vital document is key to both the Occupiers and the Tea Party. We are particularly curious to see who goes around it to enter the NYSE, and those who tread over it. If the Bill Of Rights is in good enough condition at the end of the event, it will be donated to a high school inOakland,California, so the students can be reminded of their rights every day.

Bank of UnAmerica. To the left of the NYSE building will be the Bank of UnAmerica building. This towering red and blue building will have tellers inside to receive participants’ foreclosure notices and bank statements showing bad banking practices. Of course, we advise everyone to be radically self-reliant and black out their social security numbers on any printed material they give to us (not that we are worried about identity theft, but this art piece is all about practicality–and you are better safe than sorry). These foreclosure notices and bank statements will be glued all over the inside of the Bank of UnAmerica where they will remain until they are burned with Wall Street. The reason why they are glued on the inside is so that the Burning Man community can see how these banking practices are affecting people in our own community; participants will be able to release the negativity of their experience when the building burns. Wouldn’t you want to burn your foreclosure notice in a giant towering Bank of UnAmerica?

Goldman Sucks. To the right of the NYSE is the huge shiny Goldman Sucks building, representing the huge power that Goldman Sachs wields in our world. The inside, however, will be a giant jungle gym representing how twisted Goldman Sachs is on the inside, as they sell stocks to their customers while betting against those same stocks. If one can climb this corporate ladder, they will be rewarded with corner office view; at 72 feet, this is the highest point in Black Rock City that you can get to this year.

Merrill Lynched. In the front left will be the Merrill Lynched building, with its grand top and pristine white outside, it will house four giant murals on the inside that will be painted by different muralists whose artwork will combine at the top. These murals will be accented by four search lights pointing up inside the building that will go through the four open spaces in the roof, creating a beacon of light at night. We will be projecting images of riots and fire on the building at night.

Chaos Manhattan. The last building, at the front right, is the Chaos Manhattan building. Here, donors will be able to turn in their receipt for the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) for Burn Wall Street bucks. But be forewarned–the Chaos Manhattan will be a bank that will also have tellers, but these tellers will be charging participants schwag (gifts people give out at Burning Man) and Burn Wall Street Bucks for outrageous things like using the pen, standing on the floor, and breathing bank air – just like banks seem to do these days. When we were young, banks paid you money in the form of interest to keep your money in their banks. Now it seems that they charge so many outrageous fees and give little, if any, literal or figurative interest. You lose money by putting it in a bank, which is wrong.

We are planning to blow the whole thing up in a spectacular show at 9pm on Friday night of the event!!! (August 31st)

All in all, this project will take around 50 people throughout three months of laborious volunteer work and about $100,000 (yes, real live money) to build.

More information on this Burning Man Funded Performance Art Project is available here: 

IPR readers and other interested Third Party supporters attending this year’s Burning Man who would like to attend the August 31st 9PM show as a group, and/or meet up at Burning Man earlier in the week, are encouraged to contact prior to August 25th.

About Post Author

Joe Buchman


  1. Joe Buchman Joe Buchman Post author | September 9, 2012

    Just back from banging my head against the wall and breathing in playa dust from the carpet in the RV.

    What a missed opportunity!

    The INVISIBLE portion of BWS . . . . sigh. It was there though. I saw it. When the dust picked up it’s invisibility cloak was compromised.

    (“When the dust kicked up” being a euphemism and a perfect nature/playa) representation for “When the shit hits the fan.”

  2. Joe Buchman Joe Buchman Post author | September 9, 2012

    D@MNIT@ALL — I didn’t see this until I got back.

    HOW did I miss this before going.

    Starchild, this IS FREAKIN BRILLIANT.

    All I managed was to show up with my LIVE FREE black T-shirt and connect with a few other Libertarian Burners.

    Next year on the Playa?

  3. Starchild Starchild August 15, 2012

    Cody, how are you defining “work” in this context?

  4. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk August 15, 2012

    WTF? Do they actually think this is going to work? What have they been smokin’?

  5. Starchild Starchild August 14, 2012

    Thanks, New Federalist, Paulie & Jill!

    My strength I think is more as a conceptual artist or visionary coming up with creative concepts, than at creating the art myself or realizing the performances. I do have a strong imagination; besides whatever I genetically inherited, I mostly credit reading a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, etc., as a kid.

    I’ve also got another idea for a sort of pro-freedom educational/interactive performance art theme camp at Burning Man which I think has lots of potential, and would love to find a crew of people committed to participating, but organizing large projects like that is not really my forté or something I enjoy that much.

    Perhaps if we had an LP Burning Man caucus, or regular group of libertarians attending the festival…

    If anyone wants to explore any of this further, feel free to write me.

  6. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt August 14, 2012

    Wow, Starchild, I’m awed–despite the four years of art that I took in college, your imagination puts mine to shame. Have you done performance art before?

  7. paulie paulie August 14, 2012

    Starchild – great ideas!

  8. Starchild Starchild August 14, 2012

    P.S. – It will help if you sort of look the part — you know, suit and tie, earpiece, dark glasses, briefcase (to carry the Invisible Installation description and possibly other important official documents), working walkie-talkie to communicate with other colleagues real or imaginary…

  9. Starchild Starchild August 14, 2012

    If Joe or any other fortunate souls attending Burning Man feel like it, you might print out some copies of the above description under the heading “Details of Invisible Portion of Art Installation” (I’ll supply an appropriately edited version on request) to take with you and hand out to folks at the “Burn Wall Street” art piece.

    When you hand people the paper, you can tell them you’re from the government and you’re here to help them. If they question the existence of the invisible portion of the installation, you can ask, “Don’t tell me you believe the Invisible Hand of the free market has a monopoly on invisibility?” and add, “Most of what we do is invisible even when the effects are in plain sight.”

    Then you can launch into some libertarian discourse on topics like inflation, effects of the minimum wage, licensing laws, etc. But of course since you’re from the government, you’ll talk about how great all this stuff is and how it really helps people (because it helps you keep your six-figure job).

    You might even make yourself up a fake business card from, oh, say the federal Department of Clarification and Obfuscation (you’re in the Clarification division).

    It’s kind of a pilot project the Feds are experimenting with, that’s sort of at odds with most of what they’re doing (kind of like how they grow marijuana in Mississippi and dispense tins of 300 pre-rolled joints a month to four special individuals in their medical cannabis program — see e.g. ).

    In this case, they are test-marketing an experimental PR program in which they have employees like yourself out on the playa telling people the truth about how the government really operates to find out whether they can do this and still convince the public that government is a good thing.

    If after you’ve talked about all the benefits of the War on Drugs, bombing other countries, and so on, your listeners seem skeptical or dismissive, pretend to be really worried and ask them, “You’re not planning to vote for that guy Gary Johnson, are you?” [I knew there had to be a way to campaign at Burning Man without actually campaigning. ;-)’ ]

  10. NewFederalist NewFederalist August 14, 2012

    What a mental picture you just painted, Starchild! A real Picasso! Thanks.

  11. Starchild Starchild August 14, 2012

    Behind the mock Wall Street and looming over it ought to be a huge capitol dome, replete with large tentacles sprouting out of it and entwined around the architecture of the Wall Street buildings.

    Closer inspection of these tentacles would reveal them to be translucent sluices for the transmission of money, with scarlet red liquid flowing through them (representing the blood of taxpayers) bearing reams of fake paper cash into large vats in the bank buildings.

    Bankers would occasionally fish large amounts of wet cash from these receptacles, and after exposing the bills to copious amounts of playa dust (representing dirty money), stuff it into briefcases and walk out the backs of their buildings and over to Capitol Hill, where they would cordially hand the briefcases over to other men and women in suits (representing members of Congress). Flying over the capitol dome would be the American flag — but depending upon the angle at which you looked at it, it might appear to be the Soviet hammer & sickle, the Nazi swastika, or the stars replaced by corporate and union logos and the stripes emblazoned with corporate slogans.

    Several times of day (when it isn’t too windy), one side of the dome would be seen to noticeably bulge (imagine Mount St. Helens getting ready to erupt), perhaps accompanied by ominous music or other noises, and then burst open to belch forth an enormous quantity of sheets of paper. Preferably these would be copies of actual government regulations and paperwork; ideally they would be copies of the rules, regulations and paperwork that the organizers of Burning Man itself must read and obey in order to comply with the demands of various government agencies to be allowed to put on the festival (thus serving an educational as well as entertainment purpose for attendees).

    Immediately following each of these obscene eruptions of paper, a horde of denizens of the capitol would issue forth from the building. Among them would be a number of besuited “members of Congress” who would self-importantly promenade out onto the capitol steps, where they would be met by a gaggle of fawning journalists with cameras, notebooks, and timid or pointless questions, to whom they would tout their wonderful new laws and congratulate each other on their achievements in bipartisan compromise and statesmanship.

    Meanwhile, the larger portion of the horde (representing bureaucrats) would quickly gather up all the billowing paper, and then go around affixing the sheets with putty to all manner of surfaces throughout Black Rock City. Anyone questioning the “bureaucrats” about this behavior would be handed more arcane and irrelevant paperwork and told to read it to learn their rights under the law, or if they were too bothersome, issued a fake citation to appear at a certain side entrance of the Capitol dome at a certain time. This entrance would be opened at the appointed times to reveal a waiting room containing a host of uncomfortable chairs, a number-dispenser, and a mounted TV blaring garbage (also florescent lighting if possible) and a bureaucrat seated behind a window. No useful information of any kind would be offered by this personage other than telling people to take a number and wait until called. Periodically, the bureaucrat would call a number, but none of these numbers would ever correspond to any number dispensed to anyone present. After a certain amount of time, the bureaucrat would put up a sign, announce that the office was closed for the day, and simply disappear into the innards of the building behind a locked door.

  12. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt August 12, 2012

    I love this! I wouldn’t be able to see it, so I hope there’s some media coverage somewhere.

  13. ATBAFT ATBAFT August 12, 2012

    What horseshit.

  14. Be Rational Be Rational August 11, 2012

    the bell will be * wrung * each morning at 9am…

    … By someone with very powerful hands…

  15. Joe Buchman Joe Buchman Post author | August 11, 2012

    At about 3:10 in on the video above the artist, Otto Von Danger, says:

    “To push their representatives to fix these things. And if their representatives don’t do it, to kick their representatives out of office and maybe even create a third party. All this takes an extreme amount of work. Everybody wants instant push button gratification. The reality is creating a new political party takes about 20 years and you have to start by taking over the school board and the local town council and the mayor, etc. And you build the foundation for a political party. So if that’s the way you want to go, that’s the way you’ve got to think; long-term and get it done.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

three × three =