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Burning Man Is Total Bullshit - It's Not Art. So Why Does Smithsonian Art Curator Nora Atkinson Think It's the Art World’s Utopia?

The Space Whale (2016), a collaboration between The Pier Group, Matthew Schultz, Android Jones, and Andy Tibbetts, was a stained glass and steel sculpture of a humpback whale calf and its mother, a testament to family and the need to preserve our planet. Image courtesy of an article by Artsy.

By NOAH BECKER, August 2018

I think Burning Man is a bunch of fucking nonsense - a bunch of entitled idiots acting artsy.

But as Jessica Stewart from My Modern Met Reports:

"With this year's Burning Man festival in full swing, why not take a look at some of the motivations behind the incredible art installations that dot Black Rock City each year? Nora Atkinson, a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, brings us into the culture of Burning Man during her recent TED Talk. Over the course of 10 minutes, she attempts to answer why art thrives in this unique environment.

Atkinson, who curated the No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man exhibition at the Renwick Gallery, asks us to examine the contemporary art world and how we separate artistic works that impress us due to their price tag from art that moves us. It's this emotional connection that Burning Man's art taps into. Oversized, non-commercial, and sometimes dangerous, the incredible installations are the core of Burning Man, and they're part of what brings people back year after year."

The only question left is, "What's the deal with Nora Atkinson?" Well anyways I think it's a bunch of BS and will never call Burning Man art. But feel free to watch her TED talk and make up your own mind. WM


Noah Becker

Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023. 


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