AfrikaBurn belongs to the people who build, fix, and burn things, and they gift their goodness to those who come to take it all in and breathe it all out into the world we know with running water and cashmoney. For me, it’s an art fest first, an altered state second and the biggest dress-up party in ZA third; this year 9K of us donned alter egos and tricked the stêrs into thinking they were grounded because Tankwa is where fairy lights come to die and headlamps become hip.
It’s also a space to encourage a world we build from scratch, and the vibe, overall, is one of tolerance, happiness and discovery (OK, supplements assist with that, obvz). I had many conversations with many people from all over the world at all sorts of hours of the day about what the Burn means to us, collectively/individually; socially/artistically; locally/ globally. The predominant sentiment was ‘wow’, and ‘we can go places with this’, not just as the privileged, middle class used to having our mess cleaned up for us. Speaking of which, a shout-out to the fabulous group that prepares the site, builds and maintains loos with views and actively campaigns against MOOP by practicing what you breach.
The festival gives frustrated creative professionals a life-saving outlet. People pour hundreds of thousands of their own rands into the projects that surprise, inspire, confuse and delight us, while the fest encourages this with partial subsidies for select projects. It also runs development initiatives in the area, putting some of the love back into local.
There is no single perspective that can really render AfrikaBurn: it’s too many things to so many people, and it’s completely different every year. Here are some impressions from my digital circles :
The public interplay with art is one of the best parts. The sheep (Skaap III) were found copulating in more and more orgiastic positions, morning after morning. I fell off my bicycle laughing. My bicycle that some bastard ‘borrowed’ for an hour and luckily returned after a joyride in the highest gear. Someone else put stunning graffiti all over the pyramids. and Fox road became Fix road, of course, after a smartass turned 6 and 9 ish street signs upside down, again. I can never decide if that annoys me or delights me. Isn’t lost-and-found the point of a disappearing town? Because we fumble in the dark, we smile, we eat sand, and we do it in style.
There’s a lot of love out there. And when it comes to explaining the experience, how do you write love, anyway? That’s why we make and burn art – it says it better. It says it all.
On my last night (Saturday) I noticed that the preparation for the main burn had closed the semi-circle of neon we had lived and partied in for five nights. And then Rabot burned and the circle opened up, and I felt peace despite the dissolution that resides in me. The precepts of this fest are pretty esoteric. I think Afrikaburn cleans people out without them ever even noticing.
We sleep for days on return. We dream of a world we can burn and live in at the same time. We are Tankwa.
Keep building, burners.