Burning Man, the inexplicable event each year in the remote Nevada desert, has begun taking a regional approach in its quest to open the internationally collective mind.
The network that has rapidly spread throughout the world — including Africa, Asia, and Europe — has also found a home in Ohio. The regional Ohio "burn," known as Scorched Nuts, takes place this week in College Corner, Ohio, about 45 minutes north of Cincinnati.
Angie Asselin, who has been a primary contributor as a regional contact to the organization, was among the nearly 30,000 "burners" who had the opportunity to partake in the annual Burning Man experience three years ago.
"My first experience with Burning Man in 2004 was mind-blowing," she says. "For instance, I remember just exploring the desert in Nevada — and then all of the sudden hearing the sound of the ocean or the jungle. I quickly realized there were speakers planted in the ground recreating sounds of different environments at once. It was surreal and aesthetically awe-inspiring."
Burning Man revolves around myriad concepts including "art, fire performances, participation, self-expression, radical self-reliance and giving to others." The eclectic, week-long phenomenon spurs and nurtures a vanishing city of varied cultures that work to build a temporary community teeming with individuality and experimentation.
"My friends and I don't necessarily have any niche that we specifically fit into," Asselin says. "Burning Man allows us to take part in an awesome outdoor setting filled with a diverse mixture of art, music and performance. We want to take art away from the clean, sterile environment of the museum and place it in more of an interactive realm."
While the regional burns attract just a fraction of the international event in Nevada, Asselin understands the significance of allowing the phenomenon to enrich the people of the world.
"Our greater goal is to condition Ohio and allow individuals and families to feel free in an uninhibited setting," she says. "Because this is the first official burn in this area, our main goal is self-expression and getting acquainted with the principles of Burning Man. We have an array of drum circles, DJs, interactive exhibits, and fire dancing planned but ultimately the event will become whatever you want it to become."
The growing popularity of the regional burns acts as a testament to the development of the Burning Man phenomenon, and Asselin aspires to aid in the emulation of the excitement and expression harnessed within the pioneering event.
"Burning Man has pushed itself enough into the forefront now to have the ability to evoke social change," she says. "It's been insane to watch the spectacle grow, and we hope to effectively translate the experience locally so that others have the opportunity to partake in the amazing learning experience of the festival."
SCORCHED NUTS is Thursday through Sunday at Hannon's Camp America in College Corner (outside of Oxford). Tickets for the four-day camping event are $55 at the gate.