How the art of Burning Man ignited a cultural movement beyond the desert

How the art of Burning Man ignited a cultural movement beyond the desert

The show’s name too, ‘No Spectators’, is as much an invitation as it is a maxim for visitors. Atkinson wants you to get involved, neatly circling back to one of the festival’s Ten Principles: participation. In one room, Shrumen Lumen (2016), an interactive Wonderland-esque installation of five towering origami mushrooms by art and design collective FoldHaus responds to visitors’ movements.

Burning Man Arrives in D.C.

Burning Man Arrives in D.C.

When Burning Man festival–goers get to the temporary Nevada city outside Black Rock City, greeters famously say, "Welcome home, again." While I have never attended the annual weeklong event, I imagine that this feeling of homecoming will resonate for all Burning Man fanatics who visit the Renwick Gallery's latest exhibition No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, opening today.

‘Very Strange Bedfellows’: Burning Man Exhibit Opens At Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery

‘Very Strange Bedfellows’: Burning Man Exhibit Opens At Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery

On the second floor of the Renwick Gallery, three psychedelic mushrooms are currently heaving in and out and out like giant legume-shaped lungs. Their tops almost touch the ceiling, and they respire – if that’s what you can call it – whenever visitors step on special pads on the floor.

The Smithsonian’s Burning Man Art Show Is Actually Quite Good

The Smithsonian’s Burning Man Art Show Is Actually Quite Good

In the low-lit, second-floor room of Washington’s Renwick Gallery, a cluster of three ceiling-height plastic mushrooms glows in a shifting kaleidoscope of neon colors. At each mushrooms’ base is a pad that users can press, causing the sculptures to heave, sigh, and expand in and out.

National Geographic Travel Feature of the No Spectators exhibition

National Geographic Travel Feature of the No Spectators exhibition

Video: We are LIVE in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery for a sneak preview of the upcoming exhibition No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.