Burning Man
THIS IMAGE: Burnstream Point Lighthouse, built by artist Bruce Reuser. Photography: Alexandra Lier. TOP IMAGE: The Pink Icing Cupcake was built by Molly & Michael Conn on a Minimoto kids electric quad base. And yes, it’s edible. Photography: Alexandra Lier

On a San Francisco beach in 1986, a group of friends got together to celebrate the summer solstice by burning a 1.8 metre-tall wooden figure. This annual tradition would snowball in the early 90s into an event now known as Burning Man and, as its popularity grew, it was forced to move to the Nevada desert to accommodate 70,000 people in attendance for its most recent event in 2019.

Burning Man
Golden Mean is an is an upcycled steam-punk 1966 Volkswagen by Jon Sarriugarte & Krysten Mate. Photography: Alexandra Lier

The requirements are simple: attendees must carry what is necessary to survive a week, because businesses of any kind or exchange of money are not accepted. The location where everything happens, Black Rock, does not exist the rest of the year, so it is the ‘burners’ themselves who construct it every time. At first it was based on tents or caravans, but the overflowing creativity has caused the proliferation of mobile homes, with designs from the most delusional minds, and the most extravagant pop-up constructions.

Burning Man
Valkyrian Steel is the brainchild of Henry Chang, and contains a raging V8 engine. Photography: Alexandra Lier

Despite its somewhat hippie beginnings, which maintain values such as communal effort and civic responsibility in their bylaws, recent years has seen the festival become immensely popular with tech start-up crowds from Silicon Valley.

Burning Man
The Prodigal Swan is a Four-metre Mobile Metallic Swan. Photography: Alexandra Lier

While Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have been going to Black Rock for a long time (in fact, the first Google doodle was a Burning Man), other prominent businessmen such as Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and, of course, Elon Musk have also attended, the latter claiming that he had the idea for his SolarCity while he watched the wooden man burn.

Burning Man
Gary Silverston, Sunshine Armstrong-Silverston and their six-year-old daughter travelled to Burning Man in a six-metre-tall, giant vacuum cleaner art car. Photography: Alexandra Lier

‘MUTANT VEHICLES’ WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE SEVENTH EDITION OF ICON PRINT MAGAZINE. ORDER YOUR COPY HERE.

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