That being said, there are some artistic expressions that simply stand out and make your jaw drop.  This year, the Temple of Joy impacted me more than anything else.


It is the third creation designed by David Best.  He designs intricate, massive structures using discarded wood from a toy building factory. You know those wooden dinosaur bone kits you can buy and assemble?  David takes the remaining “waste” wood and makes architectural miracles with it.

When I first arrived, the Temple crew was still building it. A massive crane and a sizable construction crew worked well into the night trying to get it completed.  The topmost spire reached 100 feet into the air.  The white unfinished wood seemed to glow under the bright construction lights. 

Huge. Intricate. Awe inspiring.

And somehow it was all made more amazing by its impermanence.

“They are going to BURN this on Sunday night?”

Wow. So much effort for a result that will only exist for a short amount of time.

But that is one of the underlying themes of Burning Man: Everything is Transitory.

Without death, life would have no meaning.

Without destruction, can creation have meaning?

I’m not sure the answer. But I know that the imminent burning of the temple definitely magnified the piece’s power.

And it destroys the notion of art as something to sit behind glass in a gallery or museum.

I couldn’t wait to see it when it was completed.