How the “Renegade Burn” Reinvented Burning Man — Without Burning a Man.

The government outlawed fire at the 2001 Renegade Burning Man. Instead of burning 100 thousand pounds of wood, Studio Drift created a carbon-neutral figure out of battery powered drones. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
There was no Burning Man allowed at the People’s Burn — just a glowing, purple Robot Heart.
One of many commemorative sickers for “The People’s Burn.” Or, whatever it was called.
Brain Love Camp at the People’s Burn. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
A playa wedding: A distinctly American, low budget recycled humble aesthetic resurfaced at the 2021 Renegade Burn which was free to all who ventured there.
The only sticker anyone gave me at the Renegade Burn.
Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell and Stephen Raspa on stage at the Black Rock Arts Foundation Artumnal Gathering benefit, which became one of the most sought-after events in San Francisco high society. Photo: Giselle Bisson
My 2019 ticket to Burning Man cost $1,400. This is the highest priced tier, for “art donors.” The main sale tickets are usually about $400–500, plus an additional parking pass, and you must pay your own travel and living expenses while building your project. While there are some low income tickets for about $180 they are very hard to obtain without connections. All burners are expected to pay for a ticket, and pay for their own project.
By 2016, Burning Man was a must-attend for Instagram shoots and models. Photo: Giselle Bisson
An eerie milky sky cast a post-apocalyptic glow to Black Rock City in 20201. As New York City was underwater, the Gulf Coast was evacuating a hurricane, and two major forest fires raged, burners had to “reinvent fire.”
The Plan B city was 3 miles past the old Black Rock City.
Searching for Plan B City in the infinite nothingnesPhoto: Duncan Rawlinson
Drone video of the “man burn” produced by Keenan Hock.
The government didn’t say: “No pianos.” If there way a way to bend the rules, the renegades found it. Self portrait by Deniz.
Dogs are usually not allowed at Burning Man, but were permitted by the Government, even though practically everything else was illegal. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
One of the few art installations, The Teapot, by Kyonica Von Houten, was perched on a trailer to circumvent government regulations that stipulated no structures could be built in the fragile desert playa. Tea was served inside. Photo: Kyonica Von Houten
Without a “DMV” stipulating what constitutes an “art car,” lower budget vehicles were able to participate, which brought some charming, smaller art cars back to the festival.
Stages were outlawed, but without the Burning Man Org’s DMV inspecting the vehicles, almost any car could become an “art car” or stage at the People’s Burn as long as it was registered. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
Robot Heart, brought the largest sound stage in 2021, which is already built on a bus.
There wasn’t much art, as installations mounted in the soil were banned by the Government, but some artists brought installations on trailers, like the G-String by Chris Callor. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
The sunset colored, handpainted Temple of Constraints was technically a “shade structure.”
A temple of reclaimed wood and driftwood was dismantled and burned with permission.
12 temple burn “bonfires” met the government constraints and were burned with permission. Drone photo: John Camino
Studio Drift of Amsterdam preparing for the “Burn” night drone show that symbolically replaced the burning of the man, and 100 thousand pounds of wood, and who knows how much C02. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
The “Brodega” brought a “bodega” of free goods to share, including Pickle Sauce Marshmallows in a box truck, skirting the government restrictions that made structures and installations illegal. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
A “stage” on the playa was created with light projections. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
With less focus on art, burners provided free services, such as this camp that grew and gave away free sprouts from a refrigerated truck.
There were no real helicopters at the People’s Burn 2021, just this “Helicopter Bus” art car. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson.
First Aid self-organized at the last minute in the last two weeks — all it took was a Google Doc. One doctor even brought an X-ray machine. Photo: Giselle Bisson
Shared Google Docs streamlined the process of recruiting volunteers to manage essential services. Each camp had GPS and What3Words coordinates as an address. There were no streets in the new city.
RADICAL SELF RELIANCE: Public porta potties were outlawed as a pandemic safety measure, so this art car hauled around its own porta potty for the camp. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
Renegade burners navigated to the new city from the old city with What3Words app download in advance on their smartphones — instead of a paper map.
An interactive open Google map customized by a Plan B group member and shared in a collaborative website enabled everyone to place their camp in a matter of minutes, bypassing many layers of bureaucracy and management. This innovative map design by Wade Harrell is now nominated for an American Planning Association award.
Camps self placed according to GPS coordinates on the Google Map to form the new renegade temporary city in the Black Rock Desert, Plan B. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
If there was one running meme or theme from the Renegade Burn, it was love. Light art photo by Magnanimous Pictures.
Documentary filmmaker Sergio somehow got away with his “fire heart” — by calling this a “propane campfire.” Video still by @surgepowermoney on YouTube
Friday night drone show by Studio Drift of Amsterdam. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
Drones aligned for the surprising “man burn” — redefining “fire” with battery powered light.
Beautiful burner. Photo by Duncan Rawlinson
A burn for everyone. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson,
Burner Sustainable Fashion 2021 Photo: Duncan Rawlinson.
Man MOOPing. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
Poopergate — the crowd lynched and shamed the perpetrators with silly memes — and then rapidly crowdfunded the cleanup of an abandoned porta potty with PayPal donations.
The Black Rock Desert was protected and returned to pristine condition by volunteers who stayed to clean up.
A tombstone for the old Burning Man was placed in the temple to ceremonially burn in a symbolic ritual in the “Temple of Constraints.”
Giant crystal ball. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson
Exit or exist? It’s time to change. Photo: Duncan Rawlinson



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Giselle "Gigi" Bisson

Giselle "Gigi" Bisson


I’m the first Journalist that ever covered Burning Man. Some people say I ruined it.