Hank Willis Thomas’s Burning Man Adventures Burn Up Instagram
He took over Jack Shainman's social media feed to document the desert party.
You’ve probably been bombarded with photographs from Burning Man popping up left and right on your various social media news feeds. But how does the desert art rave look through the eyes (and Instagram account) of conceptual artist and photographer Hank Willis Thomas? He’s been in the Black Rock Desert for a week now, posting images from Burning Man both to his personal Instagram feed and that of his gallery, Jack Shainman.
Thomas’s posts document a traditional Burning Man experience, complete with neighbors camping in tents and hammocks. Among the most surreal sights are an image of his friend bowling in the middle of desert, a huge lighted sign that reads “boring,” biking around camp at sunset, and an unidentified person sporting a checkered Lycra spandex body suit as the iconic Burning Man statue looms in the background. Thomas even captured dazzling footage of the climactic burning.
The Instagram photos are a far cry from the politically charged conceptual works, appropriated imagery, and photographs for which Willis is best known, which engage with the iconography of race in US culture today and historically. His desert photo diary is chiefly a record of daily life at Burning Man, and a highly subjective catalogue of some of this year’s biggest and most unusual art projects. Among them was his large-scale inflatable sculpture In Search of the Truth, which was knocked over and nearly blown away in a dust storm.
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