Hour Community

Burning Man ignites Eastern Townships: Burning the man

Burning the man

For the past 15 years at summer’s end, the Nevada desert receives 40,000-plus bohemian visitors for a weeklong cornucopia of radical art making, free expression and community building known as the Burning Man festival.

But for Montrealers who participate, it’s a long way to travel for some free loving and living. Which is why a small contingent of Montreal Burning Man enthusiasts is inaugurating a smaller-scale party called Ignition 2005 this weekend in the forested wilds of the Eastern Townships.

"If you’re flying to Reno from Montreal or Singapore or Abidjan, you just can’t make a 50-foot bronze statue of a goose and put it in your checked luggage," says organizer Evan Prodromou. "A guy from San Francisco can load up a flatbed truck with his whack-ass art and haul it over the Sierras pretty easy. Okay, kinda easy."

Ignition 2005 and other offshoots of Burning Man have lately been sprouting up in Northern Vermont and Ontario, answering the problem of distance and overcrowding that’s currently challenging the Nevada fest. "We’re hoping that Burning Man, the meme, can spread farther and more rapidly than Burning Man, the event," says Prodromou, who’d like nothing better than for the event to unite the often divided anglo-franco art scene in Quebec and coax all urban hipsters into a potlatch culture of amazement and shared ecstasy in the woods.

While Ignition 2005 will have its own spark, the spirit of Burning Man rages on: They’ll hope to foster a radical participatory community, ban all commercial activity on the premises and leave no physical traces post-party.

Prodromou says he’s in awe of the ingenuity, hack-ass bent-headed humour and incredible effort he’s witnessed in Burning Man projects. "To make a 50-foot geodesic dome filled with palm trees and DJ booths in the middle of an alkali lakebed three hours from the nearest city knocks you on your ass. The key point for me, though, is knowing that I have provided that level of experience and wow-factor to other people."

His council: "Bring everything you need to survive for two days in the forest (food, water, shelter) and come up with some way of participating. We’re not looking for an audience; we’re looking for other people who want to make art and be crazy."

Ignition 2005 runs Aug. 6-7, 560 Route de Mansonville. For more information, full directions, tickets and more go to www.bruleurs.net

Posted in


Share it


  • by Heather Lee - August 4, 2005, 11:58 am

    Somehow, the Burning man event, happening this weekend in the woods, tugs at your creative loins. It’s a fantastic opportunity to shut out the everyday world and to retreat to those primal creative instincts hidden down deep within every man. Everyone, regardless of their level of creativity, should actively pursue a period of isolation, at least once in his/her lifetime. It is a precursor to enlightment. Creativity is a process that often gets blocked by outside influences…rent, food, jobs, responsibilities owned and burrowed. A retreat affords an opportunity to go hog-wild for a period of time. No worries. No problems. Just solitude. If everyone went to a retreat once a year, the medical system could save billions on anti-depressants. Stop meandering down that white corridor to get your melon professionally shrink-wrapped. Save money and time by giving yourself a mental vacation. The do-it-yourself battery recharge.
    Paint. Write. Bang your bongos. Return to the old homestead without an urge to stab your 43-year-old pregnant girlfriend to death. Her 12-year-old son really didn’t need to come home to find her lifeless body. Hell, you can even resist the urge to sexually molest your twelve-year-old niece and slit her throat. The tax-payed-for-judiciary system thanks you ahead of time.
    Letting it all hang out can even alleviate you from the burden of lifting that heavy welfare
    cheque every month, infront of that teller (a.k.a. that sour-faced witch), because you might actually come up with a creative way of landing a job after a 20-year-plus vacation.
    Retreating has a long and venerable history. Wimps throughout time often retreated from the front lines in favour of having their villages ramsacked, their women raped and their male children butchered. Afterall, it’s all about the survival of the fittest.
    retreats will also make you more fit. You’ll run out cigarettes that much faster…they burn faster in pure oxygen. You won’t get cancer…ETC.

  • by Shant Noubarian - August 4, 2005, 1:07 pm

    I have never been to a Burning man festival.. but anything where everyone is urged to participate and get involved is great. If you have a message you want people to get, no better way than to get them off their butts and in the thick of things. we need more events like these.. because again this is the stuff true freedom is built on. Free expression of ideas and free and open gathering of the masses for peacefull demonstrations and the like. It is a fresh change from all other corporate sponsored events, where you pay to get it..you take your seat, shut up until its time for applause and cheer, and the only thing you need to do is empty your wallet at the merchandise counter on your way out. Nothing productive happens there.. no learning or true socializing takes places.. just commerce, and the further dulling of the masses. You know what, i think i am gonna attend this Ignition 2005 if i have the chance and everyone else shold too, because who knows how long it will last as a grassroots event ? pretty soon.. like everything else, it will succomb to corporate sponsorship.. and then they will be urging you to buy “Burning Man” T-shirts, coffe mugs, key chains and souvenir plastic “Burning Man” figurines..just what we need.

  • by Steve Landry - August 4, 2005, 10:35 pm

    I recently saw a really good documentary about the Burning Man Festival in the desert and you talk about an eclectic mix of people gathering in the sands of time in the Nevada Desert.
    Everybody was really cool, was selling all kinds of arts and crafts and examples of creative exploration and talent.
    Good for places like Montrealers to save themselves the cost and hassle of making the big trek to the warmth of the desert and to have a full-on Burning Man-like Festival here.
    Bravo Les Boys Et Les Filles.

  • by Maria Jankovics - August 6, 2005, 1:06 am

    This whole concept of building outrageous art in the middle of nowhere is ingenius and a totally new vision. You have to survive for a designated number of days and live with your creation as you are building it up. What will they come up next? But is this event only for men or can Burning Woman participate as well. Perhaps I miss the interpretation and Man is used loosely for the human race in general. I suppose the more isolated the spot is the better. It is good to find out about these things as this is the first time I’m hearing about it. But as the locations are way out in the boondocks I cannot possibly find them or even go there as I don’t have a car. It would be great to bring it to town where the population is larger and it would be easier to get to and I believe more people would pay to go see this. All the various details could be arranged with the city and then we can say ‘Let Montreal Burn’ right down to ashes (literally speaking). Wouldn’t that be fun?

  • by Vladimir Joseph - August 6, 2005, 11:56 am

    Maybe I’m not that much of a folk nut but isn’t a huge part of going to the Nevada desert for the Burning Man festival that it is that much of a pilgrimage? I’m not really part of this crowd of people but it seems that the whole trip to get there would make being there that much cooler and in the spirit of the thing? If you can basically go to you backyard doesn’t that cheapen the whole point of the thing?

  • by Stephen Talko - August 8, 2005, 7:18 am

    In this age of high technology with cell phones, pocket PCs, DVD players and iPods it is nice to return once in a while to our primitive roots which is what Burning Man represents. To be in the spirit participants should not wear any clothing or at least only those containing natural fabrics or skins. Food that is taken along should be organic and from wild varieties. Even the paints used for artistic expression should be non-toxic and from natural plant-based sources. This is not supposed to be a camping trip with fancy tents and gear. Electric powered devices must be prohibited at all times. When the Montreal Burners have an event scheduled for Lafontaine Park in the center of the city, this is going against the principles of Burning Man. Let’s keep it pure and next to nature.

  • by Evan Prodromou - August 8, 2005, 10:38 am

    Just some quick responses. First, Burning _Man_ (the event in Nevada) is open to women and children as well as men. The “Man” in “Burning Man” refers to the 40-foot humanoid statue that is burnt at the end of the event. Although it’s called “The Man”, it’s left purposefully androgynous, and the disjunction between name and form is part of the Zen koan that is Burning Man. At the Nevada event, there are also hundreds of women-positive and women-centric art pieces, events, theme camps, etc.

    As for distance; we don’t think you can really participate fully in a community unless you’re sharing living space and resources. Going to an art event on the Metro and then riding back to your home that night is nowhere near the immersive experience that camping out in the woods is. And, of course, it’s a lot easier to do bonfires and other large-scale art farther away from the city.

    That said, we think we can give people a taste of the trip to Nevada with a trip to a remote spot in Quebec. We’re not trying to replace the full Burning Man experience for people; we want to augment it with local events, too.

    As for corporate sponsorship: as an official Burning Man regional group, we have to follow the ten principles of Burning Man (http://regionals.burningman.com/network_principles.html). We _can’t_ have corporate sponsorship or any vending on the site, and still use the “Burning Man” name.

    Finally, getting 1-1/2 hour away from the city is pretty darn easy. We had ride-share boards on the Web site, notes on the email list, and people also hooked up for rides at the organizational meetings. I don’t think anyone who wanted to go got left behind.

 Add a comment

Required (will not be published)