Renwick features Burning Man exhibit

Gallery will show art through January 2019


Teagan Foti

This giant display is made of steel and has many different shapes cut into it. There is a light on the inside which makes shapes on the walls.

Teagan Foti, Special to The A-Blast

Every year in the desert of Nevada thousands of free spirits and art enthusiasts gather to see a city comprised of experimental art pieces rise from the dust and then be ritually burned down days later. This event is traditionally called “Burning Man” and is considered one of the most influential art phenomenons. For the first time ever, the installations that are usually presented in the Black Rock Desert were brought to the Washington D.C. metropolis. Last weekend I opted to save on the plane ticket and skip the dust by going to admire the art for free at the Renwick Gallery in an exhibit titled “No Spectators.”
I went to the display with my mom, aunt and cousin and we all were very impressed by the art that was featured. The exhibit was unlike anything that I had ever seen before as every piece was different from the last and almost all of the works allowed the spectators to interact with them. As we approached the museum there were lines of people taking pictures with human sized crows and a big love sign that were displayed a few blocks away from the Renwick, bringing the experience to those that couldn’t make it to the museum.
The first floor featured a mesmerizing decorative arch that had peep holes into it for alternative views, a posed woman standing almost to the ceiling as well as a virtual reality segment where patrons could play an interactive game and really feel like they were at Burning Man. There was also a “Before I Die” chalk wall where people could write their goals and then strangers could comment and connect with them over their commonalities. Some of my favorite ambitions were “before I die I want to eat all the carbs,” “before I die I want to resist racism” or “before I die I want to own a Corgi.”
The upper level of the exhibit featured a wooden temple, which once I got passed the distinct smell of plywood, was my favorite display. The floor to the ceiling was decorated with precisely cut pieces of wood which were layered meticulously; the security guard told me it took over a month to assemble. Like many of the other exhibits this one was interactive and allowed spectators to write and climb on the wood, which, intentionally or not, added a great amount of depth to the work. As I walked around the room, there were wedding flowers and memorial pictures that people had left as well as letters and quotes to loved ones. It was captivating getting to read the stories and advice that people left on the walls.
On the same floor, there were also colossal mushrooms that changed color and shape when interacted with, a LED ceiling display with a beanbag floor which lulls spectators when they lay down and look up at it as well as a “History of Burning Man” room which displays old remnants of burned art, outfits of those who attend and old promotional posters.
As we left the gallery, my aunt stated that she had a “spiritual experience” travelling through the exhibit and is now determined to make it to the Nevada to see it in its full glory. While I don’t think I’ll be joining her in the desert next August it was fun to escape reality for an hour and admire some out of the box and engaging art displays.