Dust in Weird Places…
and other things Yutta brought back from The Playa

Yutta and I went to Burning Man this year. This is her experience in her own unfiltered words.
Note: No, Yutta is not taking over my Studio Newsletter. This is her one - time - only guest appearance this fall. If you haven’t met Yutta before, I recommend you read my 2018 Summer Newsletter here

Yutta from Black Rock City:

I went up to Black Rock City with one purpose in my mind: to take a perfect selfie against The Playa and its hippies. The desert was angry that day my friends. I got about fifty feet into the open expanse: I tell you it was ten times as hot as a frying pan and twenty times as windy as a supersonic hair dryer. I rested my little painting on a travel easel that I brought with me and I stood next to it ready to self-immortalize.

And suddenly as if sensing my presence, the Playa let out a great blow of hot sand and knocked me right off my little feet. I got up as quickly as I could, sighing with relief that there was no one around to notice my pathetic attempt to appear grand. I pulled up my sole sock, straightened the easel... and got knocked off my feet again. And again. And again… 

I paused, sitting in the dust with my things scattered in the wind.  Unexpectedly, hot sticky tears started rolling down my plastic eyes... but oh no – they were not tears of frustration or sadness! They were tears of glory for my salient doggedness that no adversity could crush. I felt more alone in the world than ever before and yet more heroic than any doll has ever felt.  I was determined and tenacious. I was a doll with a purpose.

This brief time on the Playa was my most human experience: epitomizing the dignity of man’s existence in his struggle. It was simply divine. It was authentic, painful and beautiful.

I made my way back to my camp in a very elated mood. A dozen Winnie-The-Pooh bears lay stretched along the side of the road. I lay down with them for a bit in an attempt to join their tribe. They were kind and quiet but it was pretty obvious from the start I was not one of them: my rugged individual self, Ayn Rand heroic type who values her freedom beyond security and belonging.  

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men. - Ayn Rand 

Ultimately I failed in my purpose to come back from Black Rock City with a supremely staged selfie to post on social media in my never-ending bid for self-promotion. Yet I came back with something better, I learned a valuable lesson. Getting up after you fall is the purpose. Getting up after falling over and over again. Getting up when no one is watching or even knows you exist. That's how growing up is done.

Without even knowing much about Burning Man, I have been following its principles since my conception. I live and breathe many of them on a daily basis: Radical Self-Expression, Decommodification, Immediacy... I get away with them in the ‘real’ world because the ‘real’ world doesn’t take me seriously. I get ridiculed on a daily basis, but being a plastic doll without an ego, I rarely notice.

In her quest for a religious experience, Yutta  found her church at Black Rock City without a shadow of a doubt.

Burning Man is a lot about play, costume parties and pageantry. When I was leaving my Pooh friends, I saw what might have been a piece of another toy character, or a piece of a costume perhaps: Was it Pinocchio’s broken off nose or was it just a random piece of wood? 
Pinocchio is a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy - and he can, but only by "being brave, truthful and unselfish"; only by getting up every time after a wind gust blows him off his feet.

I see many Pinocchios outside of Burning Man, wooden puppets pretending to be real people. In Black Rock City, any Pinocchio can be a real boy (or girl), even if just for a week.

Written by Yutta from Black Rock City 2019 (apologies to George Constanza)


Thank you to Pilat for your generosity in letting me share my Playa experience with your audience. 


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