Preface to readers that are not in the burn scene:
I started Töad Meädow because I wanted to give other people the sense of artistic freedom and empowerment that I first experienced upon joining the Burning Man community in 2004. A fire sculpture that I made in 2011 and have displayed at several regional Burning Man events occasionally gets banned at these events. Right now, an online hate mob has formed to assassinate my character and encourage yet more censorship. Amid the din of my haters’ melodramatic caterwauling, some people respectfully approach me in good faith and ask questions about the piece. The following essay is directed at them.
Recent cultural changes have lead to more people living in an ideological “echo chamber.” They are rarely exposed to diverse ideas or the experiences of people from different backgrounds or outlooks.
The exchange of ideas and different opinions enriches all parties that partake in mature discussion. Unfortunately, civil discussion is on the decline in America, and this decline is invading the regional Burning Man scene.
I have had a piece censored twice at two separate regional burns. The first time, at Playa del Fuego (PDF), I thought was a fluke due to a unique relationship between the people that owned the land and the PDF directors.
The second time it was censored, the explicit reasons given were that someone complained that the sculpture constituted “hate speech.”
The exact same piece has been displayed with no problems at Frostburn, Freeform, Transformus (multiple times) and Burning Man itself.
Censorship has happened to me twice, and it can happen to you or an artist you care about. It has a suffocating effect on human interaction and must be stopped before it spreads further.
What you can do
- Contact the Burning Man Organization. Do this right now. Tell them that you are concerned about censorship, and to force regionals to have a no-compromise anti-censorship policy before they will receive Burning Man’s sanction. Regional burns go through a lot of trouble to be recognized by Burning Man, so success here is a good way to preëmpt any wannabe petty tyrants who run the regional events.
- Talk about issues of expression and censorship both online and with people you meet at burns. Tell them about this campaign. Help us get a buzz going.
- Follow Töad Meädow’s social media accounts (linked in the right sidebar of this website). We will have a lot more to say as time goes on. Subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter, yadda yadda. Signing up for the mailing list will let you know when we post new blogs about this issue.
- Share your experiences with censorship either in our post comments or privately through our contact form.