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