Burning Man — Archiving the Ephemeral


“Hello Kitchen Sisters, I am a rogue archivist, the archivist for Burning Man. Come to Burning Man headquarters and I’ll show you the collection. Cheers.”
—LadyBee, Archivist & Art Collection Manager, Burning Man


On the night of Summer Solstice 1986, Larry Harvey and Jerry James built and burned an eight-foot wooden figure on San Francisco’s Baker Beach surrounded by a handful of friends. Burning Man was born.

This weekend, the 34th annual Burning Man gathering begins to assemble on a vast dry lake bed in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, the nomadic ritual’s home since 1990. An estimated 80,000 people will come.

How do you archive an event when one of its driving principles is “leave no trace?” Where The Burning Man is in fact burned? What is being kept and who is keeping it? As part of The Keepers series, The Kitchen Sisters take a journey into the archives of this legendary gathering to find out.


Special Thanks: At Burning Man HQ: LadyBee (Christine Kristen), Burning Man Archivist & Art Collection Manager, Stuart Mangrum, Director of Education, Coyote (Tony Perez-Banuet), City Superintendent & Safety Lead. Also: Jennifer Raiser, Author of Burning Man: Art on Fire, Valerie Velardi, Beto Gonsalves, Leo Villareal, Eric McDougall, Ted Savarese and our project intern Kate Rarey. And thanks to all the Burners who’ve been archiving and uploading across the years.