Afrika Burn 2009

Conscious Impact: 2009. Simon Max Bannister_8m x 8m- Tankwa Earth

This is indeed the most cutting edge progressive style of festivals I have ever encountered. Set in the dramatic harsh landscape of the Tankwa Karoo 100 km North of Ceres, it feels like another planet. Numerous formations of rocks and crystals litter the landscape, with delicate yellow flowers and hardy thorn bushes, life is evidently abundant in this apparent desolate landscape.

The idea concept comes from Burning Man in America which was started after a group of friends got together to light a fire for a close friend of theirs to honour his memory. The South African version has no doubt a unique fresh twist. Taking an ancient San Rock art glyph as their logo to embody a totem manifestation of community running in the same direction together.

The final flames of "The Wish"

A giant circle maybe 500m in diameter is defined where artists can install their works, while an outer road, creates a track for art mobiles to roam around, themed camps and dance-floors define the perimeter. People are invited to create, participate, observe and experience the 4 days that it runs for. Individuals must bring all there own food, water, tents, kitchens, shade and artworks.There were many styles of music and many styles of people who joined in this celebration. It was well planned and gave everyone the space to express themselves.

The focal piece entitled "the Wish" was created by Brendan Smithers of the Upsetters, one of his crew was Simphiwe Welcome Nombila, a man that shall be forever remembered in the stars for his contribution. Dying in a car crash on the way to installing his latest work "Memory" just before this years festival, was tragic, and only after watching the final flames of his "Wish" burn with the wind, I become aware of the fact that this is how we must all go at some time. And what a great way to be remembered as the last embers of your sculpture rise into the stars and fade to darkness? While the dying final flames flickered away, the circle perimeter around glowed and hummed with joy of many people loving life.

Like the fire, people were released from conformity, and shone with their unique beauty. For me it was artwork manifested into the countless wishes we all have, to sing and dance with the elements of this world and to truly appreciate the short time we all have to share that joy. It also told me that when we die, it is actually a release back into the cosmic cycle of energy and everyone that has ever lived is only a thought away.

Thank you to everyone for making a magical congregation of ideas and painting a beautiful collage on the boundless surreal landscape of the Tankwa.

Go there!