It's time to set up camp, express yourself, and give to others: Love Burn, South Florida's official version of Burning Man, is springing to life once again. More than 3,000 Burners are expected to gather at the beachfront camping arts event, which will be held for the sixth consecutive year in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.
This year's theme for the communal and creative three-day experience is "Lost Island of Taboo," which will explore ideas such as who or what one would bring as a castaway on an enchanted island, the need for resourcefulness, and getting a fresh start in a strange land free of prohibitions. "It is all about providing a playground for artists to become inspired," says Glen Gray, who, along with his wife Prosperity Angela Di Carlo, is the lead event
In the past year, Love Burn awarded $100,000 in grants to community artists, resulting in 80 funded art projects that will be on display at the event. "We love art, and we want to usher in the next art movement, which is interactive art — the stuff that doesn't fit in a gallery, stuff that you can touch and it interacts with you and creates a temporal experience that motivates and teaches people to be better human beings and greater artists," Gray says.
At Love Burn, everyone is expected to participate and follow Burning Man's ten principles, a culture all its own that serves as a guiding ethos. Radical inclusiveness is the first: Strangers must be welcomed and respected. And commercialization is replaced with gifting by way of decommodification. Attendees bringing all necessary supplies for their own use and for sharing is based on radical self-reliance, while the ideals of civic responsibility and communal effort encourage people to help their neighbors.
Immediacy, Gray says, is the most important tenet of all: It encourages people to engage in radical self-expression, whether through gifting, art, costume, dance, or performance. "Matter out of place,” or "
Since its inception in 2013, the event, Gray says, has grown tenfold, from 300 attendees to an anticipated 3,000 this year. Fifty percent of the artists will arrive from other states, including California, Texas, New York, Illinois, North Carolina, and Georgia. There will also be a stronger presence of community leaders, including entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, and fashion designers, spearheading the next art movement. "It's a better event overall, not about the quantity but the quality of people that attend," he says.
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One hundred thirty offbeat theme camps are registered. They will offer a diverse roster of entertainment, including Beastie Boys Happy Hour, Hungry Like the Wolf Breakfast, a screening of The Breakfast Club, and workshops such as T-shirt Tie-Dye! and Brew Talk: More Llamas, Less Drama in Nontraditional Relationships.
There will be fireworks and artwork-burning ceremonies. Last year, a 40-foot-tall plywood globe was set ablaze to reveal a 20-foot-high glowing metal heart inside, which is being installed in downtown Boynton Beach, part of the effort to make artworks accessible beyond the scope of the event. "We are trying to create art that we can put in the city landscapes, and as we grow as a culture, it will help create a network of art communities," Gray says.
"We've had great success because we have a mission statement for Love Burn that is important to us. The mission is simple: to grow a happy, prosperous community that encourages interactive art," he explains, adding that in a time of homogenized mass culture, Love Burn matters because it allows personal expression to emerge organically. "The experience is about being your authentic self. You are not restricted."
Love Burn. Friday, January 25, through Sunday, January 27, at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Miami; 305-960-4600; virginiakeybeachpark.net. Tickets start at $249 via theloveburn.com.