06 Aug Wizzard and Gwen of Burning Man are bringing their art to Art Party 2016
Wizzard (Bob Marzewski) has been erecting notable art projects at Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock desert every year since 1999 but this year is different. This year Wizzard and Gwen (aka AttaGirl), well-known, longtime Burners (Burning Man attendees), will again become citizens of Burning Man’s Black Rock City but they’re not exhibiting an art project. Instead, they’ve harnessed their immense creative energies to a really special art project for Anne and Mark’s Art Party 2016. They’re building a 100-foot-long Rabbit Hole that serves as the entrance to the Art Party so when you attend this year, you will definitely be interacting with Wizzard and Gwen’s art.
Here’s what you need to know about Wizzard:
His first Burning Man event was in 1998.
He exhibited his first art project—“The Monolith”—in 1999. This art project was based on the monolith in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” (with the same 1:4:9 proportions). It was meant to be a symbol of intelligent life on Earth and included iconic symbols such as the Mona Lisa, recreated in Christmas tree lights, and a globe made with LEDs.
In 2000, Wizzard made a fiberglass casting of his own body as Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. That project earned Wizzard an uncredited front-page photo in the San Francisco Chronicle. He has exhibited something at Burning Man every year since.
In 2003, Wizzard developed “…a place to stand”, a giant 8-foot globe on a high stand that allowed you to place yourself inside the Earth through a 2-foot hole in the bottom of the world and you could also pull down on the lever arm to lift the globe and rotate it. Wizzard named this project for the Archimedes quote “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.” This project earned him a place in the movie “Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock,” which was released in 2004. That’s when Wizzard became famous as “that guy”.
In 2004, Wizzard conceived, built, and erected “The Pagoda of Infinite Reflection” with one main purpose: to make a pretty fire; and a big one. This was his first collaborative art piece for Burning Man, created with Larry Breed (Ember) and Arthur Zwern (Sunshine), along with 20+ other people from Silicon Valley.
In 2006 he created “Intelligent Design” (which returned to Burning Man in 2009). The project was originally titled “Evolution” but Wizzard changed the name for search engine optimization. He wanted to be sure an art piece based on evolution would pop up for searches on the term “intelligent design.” This was an interactive piece with a space at the end so that Burners could put themselves at evolution’s endpoint.
In 2008 Wizzard created “THE END,” as in “the end of the American dream.” This piece represents Wizzard’s feelings about Americans’ responses to the 9/11 attacks. He placed the installation at the perimeter of the Burning Man event so most people had to take art cars to see it. Wizzard was surprised to discover that he’d embedded the outline of Nevada, Burning Man’s host state, in the center of this piece.
In 2012, he developed the intricate “The Mayan TRIcycle” because that was the year that the Mayan calendar supposedly predicted that the world would end on December 12, 2012. Didn’t happen. “The Mayan TRIcycle” is Wizzard’s interactive interpretation of the Mayan calendar and shows that the calendar merely turns over at the end of the cycle, ready for another turn. A human-driven inner cylinder representing the 260-day Tzolk’in Calendar drives a larger outer cylinder representing the 365-day Haab’ Calendar through a gigantic gearing mechanism. The piece weighed around 4 tons and took 8 – 10 people to get the wheels to rotate.
Gwen says that “she met Wizzard in 2003 but he met her in 2009”. That takes some explaining. The year 2003 was the year Wizzard erected “…a place to stand”, the giant globe you could move. As part of the art, Wizzard handed out 750 globe keychains and spoke to hundreds of Burners including Gwen. For her, it was a memorable experience. For him, it was just one of 750+ encounters that year.
Then in 2009, they met again at PreCompression (the Burning Man party before heading to the desert) and this time he took note. Together they brought “Intelligent Design” back for an encore, which started their working together on art projects for the desert. In 2013, their project for the year was their wedding, where Wizzard designed and built the three-legged arch they got married under.
This year, Wizzard and Gwen will again be attending Burning Man, but they are devoting their time to creating a fantastic, interactive art installation for the Art Party—The Rabbit Hole. You’ll certainly want to see it so make plans now to attend.