Monday, September 24, 2007
Burning Man 2007: The Temple of Forgiveness
David Best is a well known artist and sculptor that is known for his large scale temples built from scrap plywood and cast off materials used in toy creation. He has created temples at Burning Man since 2000 and has been on hiatus for the last two years, but he has returned in 2007 for what he says is his last temple. Best is known worldwide for his outlandish and complicated work with these temples as well as crafted art cars both at Burning Man and in San Francisco.
This year's temple "The Temple of Forgiveness," was not just a place for people to bring remembrances, write down things to let go of, mourn, remember, and contemplate, but it was also Best's way of sharing his parents with us as their ashes were encased in the center.
This temple had the most amazing tracery covering every outstretched arm and leg. The light would filter through day and night casting the most amazing shadows.
When Best was asked what his favorite memory was of his years doing temples, he told the story of a man walking up to him and telling him "My son committed suicide, you set him free."
I had known from many friends before I went, the power this place can hold. I came prepared with memories of those I wished to invoke, a picture of some friends and I with our close friend David who passed last year, and lots of things to purge my soul of which I wrote on the many bits of tracery throughout the temple. It really was amazing the amount of relief after writing down my moments of forgiveness and letting go, so simple an act but sometimes thats all it takes.
Not an inch of space within reach is free from markings or some bit of meaningful graffiti. It is incredible to walk the walls and just read. It is inspiring to feel the power the space takes on with each ounce of energy these strangers have brought to it. The simple wood structure becomes a living breathing creature of remembrance by the final night of its existence.
The temple is burned to the ground on the final night of the event, usually the day after the man has burned. It is described as an almost silent and very solemn event. (We didn't stay Sunday night.) That night the people gather, watch, and let go... It may sound odd, but that Sunday I could feel it burn all the way from our hotel room in Reno.