Crude Awakening was shown at 2007’s burning man festival and was the star of the show and proved to be both emotional and experiential. Its all about the coming downfall of the U.S. Empire and fossil-fueled civilization. It was split into three parts construction, destruction, and rebirth.

Here are some links to watch the first two Current TV refused to document the third act.

In the first act, the artists erected a 90-foot-tall oil derrick that dominated the playa’s southern skyline. Nine metallic human figures surrounded the derrick, each captured in various poses of worship. For instance, Manu sat in a Buddhist-like lotus position, meditating with his eyes on the revered oil derrick. Down on her knees, Neela assumed a quintessential Christian pose. The nine figures represented a cross-section of cultures and religions from around the world, all united by one thing: their devotion to fossil fuels and the concordant materialism and unsustainable way of life.

For the second act, on Saturday night after the traditional burning of the Man, the Crude Awakening team unleashed a mind-bogglingly complex audiopyrotechnic show. It began with a 180-decibel, 1957 vintage nuclear air raid siren blast to warn playa inhabitants of the impending inferno. Next, millions of cubic feet of (non-toxic) smoke gushed forth, complemented by José, as in, José, Can You See? The musical score kicked off with the familiar uplifting strains of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which soon melted into a minor key melody of anger and anguish. This gave way to an unbearably long, pounding military march punctuated by relentless red, white, and blue fireworks. Soon, the fireworks turned pure red – the color of carnage and conquest.

Sunday morning, Das Mann and Cusolito unveiled the carefully guarded secret third and final act of the performance: a 50-foot living redwood tree, intended to replace the oil derrick as the object being prayed to by the looming figures. The artists intended to position the tree such that it would appear to arise from the ashes of the charred and fallen oil derrick. The redwood was grown in a box at a nursery and trucked out from the Bay Area.   “That’s our optimistic answer to what happens next: we return to worshipping nature and nurturing nature to allow her to sustain us,” said Cusolito on the eve of the third act. “Whether or not Mother Nature has any intention of sustaining us again… It might already be out of our hands…. Hopefully she’ll forgive all our stupidity and our ill-will.”

I thought this was a great piece because I feel the same way about our oil problems. We are screwing ourselves over by spending so much money on oil and we get into wars over it. Who needs all that mother nature is here to supply for us but we forget that and treat her like shit. Its good to see artist who appreciate and recognize what mother nature does for us and show people the ridiculousness of our ways with oil and how easy it would be to solve all of it if we just cut it out of our lives.

Daniel Proctor


One response »

  1. Ann Putney says:

    I’ve seen this before and I think it’s so awesome. I love the concept of replacing the oil derrick with a redwood. The really neat thing about Burning Man is they leave no trace behind. I have a good handfull of friends that have attended and they love it. It’s a pretty extreme festival but I’m ready for the challenge!

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