I traveled to Black Rock City for the first time in 2011. I’ve been talking for almost a year about Burning Man. I talked your ear off about my participation in Burning Time: the 1MileClock project. We built the largest working timepiece ever built: a clock with a one-mile diameter clock face. It was awesome.
I talked about my art piece for the 1MileClock, a woven newspaper piece; a 4 foot by 6 foot weaving glued and sealed on a ¾ inch thick sheet of plywood. I hauled that heavy artwork about 800 miles up to Northwestern Nevada from Palm Springs.
In October, I wrote about having an early arrival pass to Black Rock City to work with the 1MileClock team to build the number towers for the clock. The lead-in photo for that blog is a photograph of my artwork. Stick with me. There’s a point to all this.
On the Saturday of Burning Man week, the BRC DPW (Black Rock City Dept. of Public Works) moved the 12 clock number towers to a designated burn area. Forty-five minutes after the Burning Man burned, the clock towers were torched. It was an awesome sight. There were fire dancers doing their thing before the burn. There was a large crowd gathered for the burn. I looked for tower #5, where my artwork was. It wasn’t there. There was a blank space where my panel had been.
My art piece, along with 7 other art panels had been stolen between the time the DWP moved the towers and the time of the burn. My art panel was one of those stolen. Someone took the time to unscrew an incredibly heavy 4’ x 6’ panel from the clock tower and carry it nearly a mile off the playa. Not just one panel, but 8 panels.
On one hand, I was very disappointed to have created a piece of artwork specifically for the purpose of being torched at Burning Man. On the other hand, it was somewhat gratifying to know that someone liked my artwork enough to go through all that trouble. On the other hand, (wait, I have three hands?) it bothers me greatly to have my artwork out there not knowing who has it or what’s being done with or to it. Is it proudly displayed in someone’s home? Is it being used to patch a hole in the side of a barn? Where did it go?
Yesterday, I received a FB message from James Bowers, the brain & driving force behind Burning Time: the 1MileClock project. Jim wrote: “Jerry, Merry Christmas my friend! Guess what!? I've recovered your stolen art panel. It's being safely stored at my house (and on proud display). Not sure how to get it back to you.... Ever make it up to NorCal? Hugs – Jim”
What a surprise! I thought they were gone and lost forever. Jim was able to track down the eight stolen panels and have them all delivered to him! I have no idea how he did it. I suspect he’s being discrete about it on FB. I will certainly weasel it out of him in 2012 when we're all home again in BRC.
Jim wanted to know about how to get it back to me & did I have any suggestions? After thinking about it, I wrote: Great recovery job, Jim! I am happy to know their final disposition! It was the "not knowing" that bothered me most. My suggestion is to burn it. Perhaps we can take them to BM 2012 & torch them? That was to be their destiny. Burn it.
I created this artwork with full knowledge it would burn. It didn’t burn. Even though it will be a year late. Burn it.
Thanks for listening,
Jerry L. Hanson