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Setting divisions alight: Burning Man comes to Derry

Will Northern Ireland be tasting a little bit of Nevada?
Oct 26th 2014, 9:15 AM 14,363 17

BOTH SIDES OF the community in Derry are being urged to participate in an ambitious art project aimed at breaking down religious and political barriers.

David Best, an artist famed for his elaborate structures at the Burning Man Festival, and London-based creative company Artichoke are teaming up for a new project in the county.

Temple aims to redefine what a bonfire means in Northern Ireland.

Best has designed and built eight of the fifteen temples that have been created at the Nevada festival since 2000.

Next year he hopes to join forces with the local community to build a temple in the Waterside area of Derry.  

It will be built by Best’s team, as well as local young people and unemployed builders, over a period of two weeks before it is opened to the public in March 2015. 

People will then be invited to cover the temple’s interior with their own messages and contributions. It will be open for one week before being burned in a special ceremony.

temple design Best's design for 'Temple'.

To make the project happen, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and other partners have contributed financially, but more money is needed so the people behind Temple have turned to Kickstarter.

They had raised almost £18,000 at the time of publication, but need donations to hit £30,000 by 31 October if the project will be funded.

Best has said that the building of the temple will “unify the community”.

I find that making art together with people usually breaks down a whole lot of really radical barriers.

Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke, has said that Temple will allow local people to “work together across community divisions and do something really extraordinary – to build something that will rise high above the skyline and will offer an alternative to the divisions of the past”.

There’s a tradition in Northern Ireland of bonfires which stretches back a long time. Communities burn bonfires – enormous, great constructions.

Marriage said that the atmosphere at bonfires in the North can be very different to the mood of “peace and love” at Burning Man. She wants this to change, and hopes the Temple fire will symbolise a new beginning for Derry.

Wooden Temple Best's 'Temple of Juno' at Burning Man 2012 Source: Laughlin via Flickr/Creative Commons

“We’re hoping that by building this temple across both communities that the ultimate burning can been seen in that light and that it will bring a very different meaning to the idea of a bonfire in Northern Ireland,” Marriage added.

Read: Gallery denies anti-gay discrimination over McGuinness-Robinson ‘gay kiss’ warning

Read: Watch this artist draw an amazing, photo-like portrait of Robin Williams

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Órla Ryan


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