Burning Man: A steampunk extravaganza. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

By Alex Jones


STUNNING new photographs have captured the insanity, madness and creativity of Burning Man – a gathering which has inspired copy-cat carnivals across the globe.

Incredible images of one of the world’s most iconic festivals include nude dancers striking a pose in the middle of the sun-baked Nevada desert, a neon-clad motorised fish and its occupants, and an awe-inspiring fiery sunset reflecting the embers of a Burning Man Festival in South Africa.

Fire on land and sky, a stunning shot in a South African National Park. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

Other remarkable shots show a tottering complex of wooden towers from the Mad Max school of architecture and a woman inspecting herself in an overly large pair of sunglasses in the dusty Israeli desert.

The beautiful pictures were captured by Marek Musil (44), a Czech photographer who has travelled the globe attending radical arts festivals.

A temporary city pops up every year in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

“A few years ago I was living in New York and my flatmate was a regular visitor of Burning Man,” explained Marek, who was a rock musician before taking up photography.

“Since then I had a dream to see this crazy world for myself.

“After I came back from my first Burning Man in 2016,  I found out that the ‘burners’ world is not only in the Nevada desert.

The Burning Man, a ceremony which dates back to 1986. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

“The planet is full of burners and there are festivals everywhere.

“The biggest are in South Africa and in Israel. So I thought three different continents, three different kinds of burners but the same philosophy everywhere – that would be the basis for my Burning Man Collection.”

The first Burning Man celebration took place in 1986 in San Francisco. Extreme artist Larry Harvey made a 9-foot tall wooden sculpture of a man and ceremonially burnt it at a nearby beach for Summer Solstice.

The event grew year upon year from there, and in 1991, over 250 people attended the first Burning Man held in the Nevada Desert.

Nowadays a whole steampunk metropolis ‘Black Rock City’ springs up every year, attracting tens of thousands of people and inspiring tribute festivals including Afrika Burn (Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa) and MidBurn (Negev Desert, Israel).

Baring all beneath the desert sun. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

The philosophy behind the festivals is that it is not actually a festival at all. It considers itself a community. A global cultural movement which “values who you are, not what you have”.

Attendees are expecting to abide by Burning Man’s ten core principles, which includes ‘radical inclusion’, ‘gift giving’, ‘decommodification’ (financial transactions and advertisements are frowned upon), ‘radical self-reliance’, ‘radical self-expression’, ‘communal effort’, ‘civic responsibility’, ‘leaving no trace’, ‘participation’ and ‘immediacy’ (being in the moment).

“I am not the person to preach to someone or, God forbid, offer any world wisdoms through my photos,” continued Marek.

Hundreds of people gather around to watch the ceremonial burning at Afrikaburn, South Africa. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

“But one of the reasons I made my photobook is to show people, that the 10 basic principles of Burning Man is a great way to live – they show us how to treat each other and how to respect our nature and planet.

“I think it could be a very simple model for a better life in today’s society.

“You can see in my photos that it’s a different world – dust and light, grains of sand. All mixed in with the positive atmosphere of freedom and tolerance.

Inhibitions can be left at home when attending Black Rock City. Mediadrumimages/Marek Musil

“Crazy art cars and installations, lucky people from all over the world, cool costumes, dance, love, smiles, wine, breath-taking sunsets and bright early morning light.

“It is a big party where people like each other, everyone is friendly and open to new enjoyments.”

The Burning Man Collection is available to buy here.