Woodstock vs Burning Man

Arts & CultureAugust 23, 2019
Woodstock vs Burning Man

You may have noticed with a quick calculation that it is something’s 50th anniversary when you’ve seen the banner for a 99.99 lira t-shirt of a Spanish fast-fashion brand. Do not deny that you may be excited to see this poster with a special place in visual memories thanks to its naïve design; in a wearable form on a 100% cotton t-shirt that fits perfectly. Much like in the Van Gogh Museum store, where you will probably get tired and bored of the crowd, you would devour the potato chips in Potato Eaters printed pack: Kitsch but delicious.

The fiftieth anniversary of the three-day Woodstock Festival in August 1969 coincided almost the same week with the phenomenon known as Burning Man which is a regular festival that takes place each year in August since a sculpture of a wooden man was set on fire with a pang of love on a beach in San Francisco seventeen years after the Woodstock itself. One is a legend since it was so simple that it was named after the town it took place in and is a historical event that could never been repeated again; the other one is glittering, bright and strange enough to match the age of Instagram we live in.

Baby boomers’ belief of a better world and the pure insistence on demanding the impossible created their own culture. Their manifestation of this culture, of course, was to be different since it shaped a new lifestyle from literature and music to fashion and cinema. Designed as a three-day music festival and sold fifty thousand tickets, the Woodstock Festival brought together about five hundred thousand or more people, according to sources. Here, it is possible to say that this event created its own audience, while the culture created was planned to be presented to people for money through music. And of course that this audience overrode what was planned and wrote their own history… To be together, to produce the collective spirit, to feel it, to produce and share love…

Expecting a new Woodstock from Generation X, Y, Z people with a controversial understanding of social memory and cultural heritage would be too romantic. Burning Man materialized such an individual matter like the pain of love in a three-meter long wooden man and symbolized it by burning it. It chose to market this ritual more systematically. Thus, Burning Man left the beach party in 1986 and settled in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, becoming a city that turns into a ghost town once the festival is over.

It began to implement the idea of a utopia, which today’s people have always searched for, by setting a theme each year since 1993. It has reduced sustainability to “leaving no garbage behind”, the demand for equality, and the economic theories resulting from it to “not to trade”. It gave the present-day man, whose production ability had been long gone, an empty gift with a magical timbre and a wonderful appearance, which he could desperately find a shelter in: Experience! People who create their own impossible and experience it in a limited period of time which they determine, and the huge installations that make their utopias tangible!

Have you noticed that an ideal platform created by the Burning Man, where we can present and experience how we want to be away from the daily life that no one cares about how we actually are, is the main purpose of our Instagram profiles today? Is it possible that the fact that the festival tickets were first sold out in 2011 shows that this festival of experience, this great creative event has been lost to the magical realism of social media as a place of seeing and being seen?

Author: Dilan Saray