#717. Monday Post (30 April 2018) – AfrikaBurn

By Paul Perton | Monday Post

Apr 30

She said; “Would you like a fortune cookie from the Universe?”

“Yes please.”

And there it was; “The universe seems neither benign, nor hostile, merely indifferent.” Carl Sagan.

Welcome to AfrikaBurn, South Africa’s annual four day festival of art, creative activities, music, dancing and other largely adult fun, deep in the heart of the Karoo at Tankwa, about 300km north of Cape Town. A direct descendent of Burning Man, AfrikaBurn is now in its eleventh year and growing annually, despite its remote location 100km along Africa’s longest unpaved and dusty road.

My first Burn and as much learning experience as culture shock. Fantastic photographic opportunities, wonderful warm days and bitingly cold nights – this is a desert after all. I’m partying with 13,000 other revellers, mainly South Africans, but scattered through the crowds, representatives from just about every nation on Earth.

And, given the continent’s largely violent recent history, nary a cross word from anyone.

Enough verbiage from me. Here’s an insider’s view – captions where appropriate.

Did I mention nudity?

Did I mention nudity?

The end of the giant Clan sculpture

The end of the giant Clan sculpture

DMV: Department of Mutant Vehicles

DMV: Department of Mutant Vehicles

"Skollie Patrollie" (Afrikaans: skollie = bad/naughty)

“Skollie Patrollie” (Afrikaans: skollie = bad/naughty)

The giant Clan sculpture, burned on Friday night

The giant Clan sculpture, burned on Friday night

  • pascaljappy says:

    Thanks Paul. Been wanting to visit Burning Man for a while, not realising there was an alternative in SA. Not that it’s easier to access, by the looks of things …

    But nice pics, really your style 🙂 Love the various artificial lighting situations and the actual fire, that looks like a man’s escaping from it.

    Btw, did you misspell ? Was that bun’s night ? 😉

    • paulperton says:

      There are Burns all over the world now; especially Australia and (I’m told) Israel.

      Access to AfrikaBurn is only difficult because of the road. For international visitors, there are lots of places offering 4×4 vehicles for hire, fully equipped and with roof tents, which makes camping a case of parking, setting out the tent – in just a few minutes, you’re ready for bed.

      The road (it runs around 300km in all) up from Ceres is quite smooth, but the geology of the area has meant lots of small flint-like stones everywhere. Roll over one at just the wrong angle and your tyre will be shredded in a heartbeat.

      Reducing tyre pressure helps, but wheel changing is something you have to be prepared for. Best advice is the same as anywhere in much of unpaved roads in Africa; don’t travel alone, try to find another vehicle to drive with.

      The spectacle makes it all worthwhile.

  • Mike says:

    Now that looks like great fun. Your photos certainly seem to catch the atmosphere.

  • Steffen says:

    100 km unpaved road … WTF! Just other dimensions down there.

    Btw: I’m just curious because you point it out upfront, this is usually a whites only festival? There’re no people of color in your images.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I couldn’t help remembering my great aunt telling me what she thought of people shedding the outer casing – “clothes are a kindness to most people”. Actually it’s worse – one of the ones wearing a shimmery and rather transparent dress seems to have an unexpected appendage between her legs – trick of the light, perhaps? 🙂

    Paul, you included what I think must be the most stunning specimen of a photograph of a bicycle that I’ve seen, so far, on DS. Very tricky shot, highly creative & imaginative, brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed! Congratulations – you win the Golden Penny-Farthing Award of the year! 🙂 To be even handed about it, I should say the same about the rest of the photos, but that one really stood out, for me.

    Tell me – what’s the lady in the picture above the bicycle doing with that donut? – is she going to pull it to bits and shove it in the other lady’s hair, or something? And why on earth is the man several frames above that wearing a see-through white petticoat down to his ankles? – with inbuilt LED lighting, instead of an external dress to cover it up? Never in my life have I felt the urge to wear ladies’ clothing, let alone fill it with floodlighting! Whatever sort of festival is this?

    • paulperton says:

      It’s not a doughnut, but the end of her sleeve! The girl standing up was painting the face of the other and applying glitter and all manner of other stuff, so a chunk of doughnut might not have been out of place after all. This was a really difficult shot as I’d opted for my D700 and pre-AI 105 f2.5. There was so little light that even at ISO 6400 and wide open, the lens was difficult to focus and the decade old Nikon well above its optimal exposure value. I probably shot 30 frames from different angles, most are blurred – this being the best overall.

      The guy in the white tent/dress? I don’t know, but being AfrikaBurn, no-one even gave him a second glance.

      Cross dressing and a glimpse of Gentleman’s Sausage? Maybe.

      There was plenty of outright nudity too, but I mistakenly left my 85mm f0.0 Prurient lens at home. Anyway, it’s all part of the fun.

  • Adam Bonn says:

    It looks a little like how I remember Glastonbury being in the mid 1990s, but less rain and mud and more sun and sand, oh and more fire a lot more fire.

    Captions you may have forgotten

    “Did I mention cross dressing”

    “I hope that’s his daughter”

    “Dude where did you stash the weed? In that big wicker man thing? NOOOOOOOOOOOO”

    It certainly seems to be an amzing experience, and a way to turn an empty location into a lively place. The summer of love vibe meets hippy Mad Max fashion perhaps

    Not sure how hard it was for you to get there, but it certainly seems worth it. A true audio visual experience. With nudity.

  • philberphoto says:

    Unlike Pascal, who’s been wanting to go, the thought never crossed my mind. Generation gap and all that sort of thing. This is why I am so grateful for such fascinating images, so that I can go without going. It is not for nothing , after all, that the word “voyeur” is a French gift to the world…:-). Great stuff, Paul!!!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    ROTFLMHAO – what more can I say, Philippe?

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