This is what you missed if you didn't go to AfrikaBurn 2014!

2014-05-06 14:43
Cape Town - The dust has just started to settle over the Tankwa Karoo desert as the last festival goers drove home on Monday after a week-long gathering that saw 9000 people create a temporary town of art, music and performance in the middle of nowhere.

AfrikaBurn 2014 was yet again as surreal, amazing and mind-boggling as always.

This year’s event was the biggest yet, with 95 registered art works, over a hundred theme camps and impromptu performances happening all the time.

“Subterrafuge”, a statement against fracking in the Karoo, was a highlight. Made up of six wooden pointed cones ranging in size up to 30 metres, rising from the ground, it was the biggest artwork ever built at the event.

Another stand out was last year’s “Reflection”, the wooden torso and head of a man growing out of the ground which this year had a spectacular choreographed projection mapping light show, and which was burnt on the Friday night in front of a mesmerized crowd.

The Clan sculpture, the festival’s main totem, this year was a futuristic robot bunny – a move away from the more earthy San Clans of past years.

AfrikaBurn is like no other festival on the continent. The event is all about self-reliance, so all participants bring in everything they need to survive in the harsh desert, including water, food and shelter – and then take everything away with them, including all their own rubbish.

There’s no organised entertainment at AfrikaBurn, and there’s nothing for sale other than much-needed ice. The event runs on a gifting economy (and not bartering, as most people who haven’t yet been think), where people give to strangers - everything from ice lollies to cocktails – without expecting anything in return.

The art works, interactive installations, sculptures, mutant vehicles (cars turned into moving art) and theme camps – from bars and dance floors to Instagram-inspired photo booths – are all conceived of and built by festival participants themselves.

With the big increase in participant numbers, the event this year wasn’t without its problems and challenges, and as AfrikaBurn grows each year change is inevitable, but it’s hard to deny that for many people, especially first timers, coming to AfrikaBurn can be a life-changing experience.

You manage to survive in the desert – this year was particularly hot and extremely windy and dusty at the end – with very little, you have the most amazing interactions with strangers you’ll never see again, you are blown away by the surreality of it all – the crazy art and partying in the middle of the desert – and are overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness and creativity that fuel this whole event.  

(Photos: Sarah Duff)

*Sarah Duff is a travel writer and photographer from Cape Town who attends as many festivals as she can (AfrikaBurn is her favourite of them all). publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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