The spectacle of Burning Man has become a staple of wider pop culture with its out-of-this-world art installations, beloved sound camps and top tier artists and its 10 bounding principles that keep the world of Burning Man in a rotation that's unlike any other.
Against the organizer's original wishes, it's no secret that the event and its picturesque setting has become an adult playground where the wealthy spend exorbitant amounts of money, but also an inadvertent platform where companies and influencers market, sell and commercialize products.
In a new statement published by Marian Goodell, CEO of the nonprofit Burning Man Project, she conveys the event's desire to move away from such behaviors through "culture course correcting".
"Whether it’s commercial photo shoots, product placements, or Instagram posts thanking “friends” for a useful item, attendees including fashion models and social media “influencers” are wearing and tagging brands in their playa photos. This means they are using Black Rock City to increase their popularity; to appeal to customers and sell more “stuff"," she writes. "Failing to make clear what behavior is unacceptable has compounded the problem. I recently heard rumors of more than one product or business launch happening on playa in 2018. Seriously, people. This really isn’t Burning Man."
She goes on to highlight the issue of "luxury camp" packages being offered, underlining that part of the Burning Man experience is each individual's investment of time, energy and resourcefulness in order to attend the event. "Burning Man is not a festival," she states. "The invitation to participate is more than an invitation to have an amazing experience. It’s about CREATING that experience for yourself and those around you."
In effort to impede these arising issues, Burning Man has altered their ticketing structure this year including expanding low income ticket allocations and adjusting high-priced ticket sales, with aims to support economic diversity and authentic engagement. Read about the ticketing system changes here.
Finally, Goodell encourages readers to avoid purchasing package deals to the event and report them to the organizers, as well as policing each other to stay true to Burning Man's ideology. Read the full statement here.
Valerie Lee is Mixmag's Global Culture Editor. Follow her on Twitter here