The term “temporary art” is sometimes used to describe the genre of art commonly referred to as installation art, which first gained popularity in the late 1960s; however, installation art can be either permanent or temporary. Both nomenclatures are used to describe art that relies more on the sensory reaction of the viewer than a more academic appreciation in a traditional setting. Perhaps no other cultural phenomenon better illustrates the influence of temporary art than the Burning Man festival held each summer in the Black Rock desert near Reno, Nevada.
Since its inception in 1986, Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, has encouraged artists to create temporary works for the week-long event, especially collaborative pieces of art that generate interaction with the festival’s participants. Following the tradition of the “burning man,” whose effigy is set on fire at the conclusion of the festival, many of the temporary art installations are burned as well, synchronous with a core ethos of Burning Man to leave the desert as pristine at the end of the festival as at the beginning.
Inspired by the success of temporary art at Burning Man, in 2001, Burning Man founders created the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), an organization that promotes community-based art projects encouraging social participation. BRAF provides grants to installation artists, and works directly with communities to foster art outside traditional models and institutions. BRAF occasionally facilitates reproducing art originally exhibited at Burning Man, proving that “temporary” art can recur again and again.