Following a successful return to the playa in 2022, the organizers of Burning Man are starting to prepare for next year's edition by announcing its theme: Animalia.
The theme was revealed in a blog post published in The Burning Man Journal by Stuart Mangrum, the director of Burning Man Project's Philosophical Center.
"This year’s Burning Man theme will celebrate the animal world and our place in it—animals real and imagined, mythic and remembered—and explore the curious mental constructs that allow us to believe that imagined animals are real, real animals are imagined, and that somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary, mankind is somehow not part of the animal kingdom," Mangrum wrote.
That may take a minute to digest, but it leaves room for interpretation. It's important to note that the theme is not "animal," but rather "Animalia," which refers to a diverse biological kingdom that includes both invertebrates and vertebrates.
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"Anyone familiar with the high desert knows that even out on a dry lakebed, the skies carry soaring ravens and buzzing insects, the fairy shrimp slumber below ground waiting for rain, and countless other species roam the transition zones where the playa edges into scrub and wetlands," reads a post published on Burning Man's verified Instagram account. "But all that life pales in comparison to the endless menagerie of imagined animals we bring with us every time we come to Burning Man."
Encouraging Burners to tap into their creativity is nothing new. But inviting them to explore how mankind relates to other creatures beyond the human form is what make this theme fascinating.
"The notion of a human being and another animal being somehow entwined is also reflected in the traditions of tonalism, where every human has an animal counterpart to which their life is linked," the Journal post continues. "This belief remains evident in astrology, where being born under the sign of the lion, or the monkey, is thought to somehow shape one’s innate character."