This is a photo of the award, certificate and medallion, that was presented to me by the “Necklace Factory” at Burning Man 2010 in recognition of my “Illuminations” installation at the Festival.
On the night before the Burning Man festival I was introduced to the folks at the Black Rock City Post Office (they are a real post office with a USPS cancellation stamp that sends and receives mail at Burning Man!). My assistant, Damo, had made friends with them over the course of several days we had spent putting the installation together. After making their acquaintance they came as a group to see my installation, and then after a brief while they began to say to me, “We want you to come into our tent for something. It will only take two minutes, and then it will last for eight minutes after that.” I was quite apprehensive about this invitation and kept deferring. I suspected that they wanted to give me DMT to smoke, since it sounded like they were describing the short acting hallucinogen’s effects, and I was not in the mood for taking a powerful drug like that. They kept persisting, however, and so I acquiesced at last.
They brought me into a teepee like tent of modest size that was well appointed with oriental rugs, embroidered cushions, antique trunks, and other quaint furnishings that seemed to evoke Sir Richard Burton’s lodgings on an expedition to Arabia. I thought the DMT pipe was to be produced at any moment, and was nervous, and so it was to my great relief that they produced an award for me (pictured above).
My understanding is that the Post Office’s legacy is intertwined with something called the Necklace Factory that provided people the facilities to make necklaces to exchange as gifts at Burning Man. At some point the Necklace Factory started giving awards to their favorite artists at Burning Man. Every year they create a different certificate and medallion and present it to artists. The award I received was 173 out of 350. Damo also received one for helping me with my project. Since many Burning Man projects involve large numbers of collaborators, potentially many awards are given to single projects.
I am very honored to receive the award. It is in fact the first award or prize of any kind I have received since I won an art contest when I was in high school – 25 years ago.