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Burning Man Installation in Dallas Last Weekend


by Betsy Lewis 12 Jan 2009

Burning Man Festival, 2008 Looking over pictures of Dadara‘s Checkpoint Dreamyourtopia installation at Burning Man 2008, it is obvious that sacrifices of visual impact were made in order to bring it to Centraltrak, the UT-Dallas artists’ residency in Exposition Park. Missing was the exterior facade of a pink skull and crossbones. Also missing when I […]

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Burning Man Festival, 2008

Looking over pictures of Dadara‘s Checkpoint Dreamyourtopia installation at Burning Man 2008, it is obvious that sacrifices of visual impact were made in order to bring it to Centraltrak, the UT-Dallas artists’ residency in Exposition Park. Missing was the exterior facade of a pink skull and crossbones. Also missing when I visited — the harassment that this comment on immigration had promised.

I arrived a few minutes before 5 p.m., the designated start time, to make the most of the light situation since I planned to film the installation. A “guard” dressed in fatigues stood by a station wagon emblazoned with Dreamyourtopia themes. He didn’t seem quite ready for me, yelled at me half-heartedly then let me through anyway. People are scared of video cameras. I learned this when I lived in a bad part of the city and would hold up my cellphone as if shooting video to keep from getting unwanted street attention. But I was at Checkpoint Dreamyourtopia hoping to be harassed, much in the spirit of the old Goff’s Hamburgers on Lovers Lane, where people would line up as much to be abused by Harvey Gough (long before Seinfeld‘s soup nazi) as to eat his fine burgers.

Checkpoint Dreamyourtopia was more a theatrical piece than visual art installation. I ran into a friend who had experienced the Burning Man version, and he said the guards were also too nice at the start of the festival, but by the end they were almost too brutal.

Anyone go through between 7 and 9 p.m.? I’m curious to know if things got saucier after dark.

It was fun and different, and I did finally get bullied near the end. Video tomorrow.

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  • Marie M

    My group went through between 7 and 9. The main thing the guards did for us was to question what we presented them with and to add randomness, including moving some people forward in line and others back in line and requiring people to read books upside down. The participants were adding their own randomness, which the guards either forbade or provided rules for. What we got relied in large part on what we brought in.