Burning Man Themes, Streets and Temples

Photo above: Temple of Hope, 2006

A list of the themes since this concept was added to the event in 1995.

2016 — Da Vinci’s Workshop

Burning Man’s 2016 art theme is inspired by the Italian Renaissance of the middle fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when an historic convergence of inspired artistry, technical innovation and enlightened patronage launched Europe out of medievalism and into modernity. Our story will focus on the republic of Florence, for it was here, in a city-state of about the same size and population as Black Rock City, that humanist ideals, a rediscovery of science, and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs fueled a revolutionary cultural movement that redefined Western civilization. Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance. [Burning Man Org Theme statement]

2015 — Carnival of Mirrors
2014 — Caravansary
2013 — Cargo Cult
2012 — Fertility 2.0
2011 — Rites of Passage
2010 — Metropolis – The Life Of Cities
2009 — Evolution – A Tangled Bank
2008 — American Dream
2007 — The Green Man
2006 — Hope & Fear
2005 — Psyche
2004 — Vault of Heaven
2003 — Beyond Belief
2002 — The Floating World
2001 — The Seven Ages
2000 — The Body
1999 — The Wheel of Time
1998 — The Nebulous Entity
1997 — Mysteria (event ran into major logistical problems)
1996 — The Inferno
1995 — Good and Evil

2016 — The Temple Project (David Best)

David Best has stated that this will be his final temple for Burning Man. Though he has said that in the past, this time I almost believe him. The inclusiveness of the name of this temple suggests that this one is intended to embody the essences of his previous structures and is meant to pull them together into one final incarnation.

2015 — The Temple of Promise (Dreamer’s Guild)
2014 — The Temple of Grace (David Best)
2013 — The Temple of Whollyness (Gregg Fleishman & the Otic Oasis Team)
2012 — The Temple of Juno (David Best)
2011 — Temple of Transition (International Arts Megacrew, Reno NV)
2010 — Temple of Flux (Rebecca Anders, Jess Hobbs and Peter (pk.) Kimelman)
2009 — Fire of Fires (Community Art Makers, Austin, Tx)
2008 — Temple of Community (Lancelot Smith and Rue Morgue)
2007 — Temple of Forgiveness (David Best)
2006 — Temple of Hope (Mark Grieve)
2005 — Temple of Dreams (Mark Grieve)
2004 — Temple of Stars (David Best)
2003 — Temple of Honor (David Best)
2002 — Temple of Joy (David Best)
2001 — Temple of Tears (David Best)
2000 — Temple of the Mind, first of the annual temples, by David Best in memory of Michael Hefflin

The street names give more insight into the concept behind each theme. Note that in earlier years the alphabetic naming pattern was either not used, or was followed loosely. The alphabetic streets are a far easier system for navigating the city and are often just referred to by their letter. As the city has expanded in size, being able to quickly understand where a location will be has become ever more important.

2016 — Da Vinci’s Workshop Esplanade Arno Botticelli Cosimo Donatello Effigare Florin Guild HighRenaissance Italic Justice Knowledge Lorenzo
2015 — Carnival of Mirrors Esplanade Arcade Ballyhoo Carny Donniker Ersatz FreakShow Geek HankyPank Illusion Jolly Kook LaffingSal
2014 — Caravansary Esplanade Antioch Basra Cinnamon Darjeeling Ephesis Frankincence Gold Haifa Isfahan Jade Kandahar LapisLazuli
2013 — Cargo Cult – Esplanade Airstrip BiggieSize Consumer Desiderata Extraterrestrial FalseIdol GDP Holy Interstellar JohnFrum Kowtow Laissez-faire
2012 — Fertility 2.0 – Esplanade Alyssum Begonia Columbine Dandelion Edelweiss Foxglove Geranium Hyacinth Iris Jasmine Kingcup Lilac
2011 — Rites of Passage – Esplanade Anniversary Birthday Coming Out Divorce Engagement Funeral Graduation Hajj Initiation Journey Kindergarten Liminal
2010 — Metropolis – Esplanade Athens Baghdad Cairo Detroit Edinburgh Florence Guangzhou Hanoi Istanbul Jakarta Kyoto
2009 — Evolution – Esplanade Adapt Biology Chaos DNA Extinct Fossil Genome Hominid Inherit Jurassic Kinship Lineage
2008 — American Dream – Esplanade Allanté Bonneville Corvair Dart Edsel Fairlane Gremlin Hummer Impala Jeep K-car
2007 — The Green Man – Esplanade Arctic Boreal Coral Reef Desert Estuary FreshWater Grassland Habitat Intertidal Jungle KelpForest Landfill
2006 — Hope and Fear – Esplanade Anxious Brave Chance Destiny Eager Fate Guess Hope
2005 — Psyche – Esplanade Amnesia Bipolar Catharsis Delirium Ego Fetish Gestalt Hysteria
2004 — Vault of Heaven – Esplanade Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto Sedra
2003 — Beyond Belief – Esplanade Authority Creed Dogma Evidence Faith Gospel Reality Theory Vision
2002 — The Floating World – Esplanade Island of Azuera, Bowsprit Forecastle Mainmast Midships Mizzen Wheelhouse Fantail, The Abyss
2001 — The Seven Ages – Esplanade the infant, the child, the lover, the soldier, enlightenment, the justice, the pantaloon, oldivion
2000 — The Body – Esplanade= Head Way, Brain Boulevard, Throat Road, Avenue of the Heart, Gut Alley, Sex Drive, Anal Avenue, Knee Lane, Feet Street
1999 — The Wheel of Time – Esplanade Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury (no logic to this layout); first use of clock for naming of radial streets
1998 — The Nebulous Entity – Esplanade, Village Way, Atlantic Avenue, Baltic Avenue, Outer Avenue; radial streets named from center point outward as South 1st to 20th and North !st to 20th

description of the 1998 theme from the organization website:

The nebulous entity is a mobile platform. The strategy of its structural and human design is to create a hyperactive interface between performers and participants. The entity consists of four parts: A central tower that houses a generator, lighting and sound system, lasers and other equipment; the moving platform and stage set, on which the tower is mounted; numerous and extensive tentacles that surround the platform at and above ground level; and single and free-moving performers who will accompany the tentacles.

In general appearance the entity resembles a fluorescent form of sea life. It undulates in all its motions and it glows. All performers are costumed and painted with fluorescent elements and other portable light sources. Like creatures of a coral reef, they form a significant part of the entity’s living architecture.

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