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Redefining the Value of Art

Nora Atkinson's Keynote on Burning Man Celebrates Art or Art's Sake

— August 29, 2018 — Keynote Trends
Craft curator Nora Atkinson delivers a keynote on Burning Man that outlines the value of the festival and its importance in sustainable community building outside the framework of capitalism. The week-long event is held annually in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, where 70,000 people gather to "build an anti-consumerist society." The experience does not only reject the monetary value that is used to evaluate works of art, it also offers relief from digital cultures.

During her keynote on Burning Man, the speaker identifies that the festival arrives at something that is "essentially human" through community-enhancing exercises, tech-free experiences, and interactive environments. At the beginning of her talk, Nora Atkinson vividly describes Peter Hudson's 'Charon' — a piece that debuted during the 2011 edition of Burning Man and one that came to be known as the world's largest zoetrope. The immersive sculpture is an example that perfectly communicates the spirit of the art-celebrating event as it is huge, dangerous, beautiful, interactive and "completely useless." Nora Atkinson stresses that here is where the true value of Burning Man lies — in the fact that it redefines the value of art in terms of emotional connections, creative fulfillment, and social cohesion.

The event is "an experiment in collective dreaming" and welcomes an "active collaborative maker community."