AfrikaBurn

Photos from AfrikaBurn by Scott London

I’m back from two beautiful and amazing weeks in South Africa. It was my first time attending AfrikaBurn, an event now in its tenth year that draws thousands of artists, fire performers, costume designers, DJs, musicians, stilt walkers, body-painters, and countless other creative types, most of them from South Africa, but increasingly from other parts of Africa and beyond as well.

AfrikaBurn is sometimes described as a festival or party in the desert. But it would be truer to call it an experiment in creative self-expression. Each year at the end of April, thousands come together in the Tankwa Karoo desert to create large-scale art installations, build outlandish vehicles, organize theme camps, make music, put on performances, dress up in wild outfits, and—as the name suggests—burn stuff to the ground.

The comparisons to Burning Man are inevitable, but I find that AfrikaBurn has its own unique character and sensibility. I love that it’s still relatively small-time and intimate. There’s a freewheeling atmosphere and a kind of laissez-faire openness I’ve never experienced  in over a decade of attending Burning Man. It could be that some rules don’t exist simply because there hasn’t been a need for them. Or, it may owe something to the fact that South Africa is an altogether different culture. In any case, it made a deep impression.

Special thanks to my friend, fellow photographer, and wonderful travel companion Duncan Rawlinson. The two of us hatched the idea of going to AfrikaBurn more or less at the last minute, and it’s safe to say neither of us would have made the trip alone. If you haven’t seen Duncan’s photos yet, be sure to check them out here. I’m also grateful to the many wonderful burners who freely consented to let me photograph them in the act of dancing, stilt-walking, hooping, making art, or simply being beautiful. Thank you.

A few technical notes. I shot about 2,500 images over the course of six days. As always, I brought two cameras and shot with a variety of lenses. Looking over the stats on the plane home, I was surprised to see that the lens that got the most use was my 16-35mm wide-angle, not one I normally use that much. But it could be that the wide open spaces of the desert, especially combined with the dramatic cloud patterns and incredible play of light and shadow, favored a wider-than-normal perspective. That lens was followed closely by the 85mm, my preferred portrait lens, and the 35mm.

Here’s my set of 100 personal favorites — AfrikaBurn 2017

 

 

 

Live Q&A at the Press Room

We had a good turnout for the opening of my photography exhibit “Fire and Dust” at the Press Club in Monterey last week. The event included a live interview with Bradley Zeve of the Monterey County Weekly and some great questions from the audience.

Thanks to Bradley for hosting and moderating the discussion (and for the thoughtful questions) and to Jack Peterson of the Media Center for Art Education and Technology for taping the event for broadcast (to be aired on MCAET throughout March and April — check listings here).

Below is an edited 51-minute video of our conversation.

Fire and Dust – A New Show in Monterey

It’s weird to see Shepard Fairey’s work come down and my own go up. I’ve been a fan of his art for a long, long time.

We’re kicking off a new show today, this one in Monterey. It’s called “Fire and Dust” and features a decade of my Burning Man photography.

The show is in a cafe/art venue/public gathering place called The Press Room. The exhibition is curated by the Winfield Gallery.

Seems like there are a lot of people involved. There is a lot of enthusiasm about the show. Hopefully it will translate into a decent turnout at the reception and live Q&A in two weeks.

If you happen to be in or near Monterey on March 10th, I hope you’ll come by!

The show itself runs through April 15th.

More info below…

Scott London at the Press Club in Monterey

Exhibition in Telluride

 

This week I’ll be in Colorado exhibiting my work at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art. The show opens on Thursday with an artist reception. I’ll also be signing copies of the newly published Second Edition of Burning Man: Art on Fire at Between the Covers, the local bookseller and café.

The gallery show coincides with the annual Telluride Fire Festival, now in its third year. The event is billed as a community celebration of excellence in interactive fire arts. It runs three nights and features huge, interactive, fire-emitting art installations, world-class fire performers, fire spinning workshops, and other activities. Should be quite a party.

I spoke about the exhibition with Cara Pallone of KOTO Public Radio. You can hear the 7-minute interview here:

If you’re in or near Telluride, make a point of checking out the festival and please stop in at the gallery reception. Here are the details: Scott London Artist Reception at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

Painted Desert

The Painted Desert series grew out of a great collaboration with the performance troupe Vessel. The project was commissioned by the Mesa Arts Center and is perhaps best described as a merging of photography, costume design and performance art. We put a lot of planning and hard work into an initial photoshoot in the Painted Desert. But the real highlight of the project was presenting it in front of a live audience—as we have now done at several venues in Arizona, including Spark Festival in Mesa, the Public Art Program in Glendale and, earlier this month, the Phoenix Art Museum.

As a photographer, I’ve presented my images in a variety of formats and venues over the years—magazines, gallery shows, books, film, etc. But this is the first time I’ve used photography as part of an interactive experience. The photographs are projected on people and objects as part of the performance. When we presented the show at the Mesa Arts Center, the entire complex became a moving art gallery of sorts, with images flowing across walls, ceilings, floors, and even people in the audience. As you can see in the photos below, the Vessel performers became living screens for the projected images. (In the fourth image, I appear alongside Rachel Bowditch, camera in hand.)

Spark! Festival Spark! FestivalSpark! FestivalSpark! Festival

Vessel is the brainchild of Rachel Bowditch, a respected performance artist recently named one of today’s 100 top creatives by Origin Magazine. It was a joy and an honor to work with her. For more about Rachel’s work, check out her website Vessel Project.

Here are a few more photos from the series. For more images, check out the slideshow here.