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My pictures are divided into three categories: Things, People, and Places

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Photographs from Burning Man 1998 by Geoffrey Notkin

Attending Burning Man for the second time, I flew from New York to San Francisco and drove to the Black Rock Desert in a worn but sturdy pick-up. Although I had friends at Burning Man in 1998, I chose to spend most of the time on my own — something unusual, I suppose, in an event that is so communal and social. But I am used to remote desert camping, and enjoy the challenge and rewards of solitary travel. Although it was an exciting and at times ecstatic adventure, I often felt lonely and despondent — strange feelings when surrounded by so many weird and wonderful people. Looking back at these photographs, I see some of that loneliness within them. Most of the landscapes lack figures, and the images of "Things," far outweigh those of "People."

Burning Man is an event and an experience that is almost impossible to recount in words, although many have tried. True, I have related to others a series of stories that partially illustrated a moment of humor, horror or revelation, in the same way that one might convey some of the excitement of a great concert using only a live cassette tape. The listener might, at best, gain a partial appreciation of the moment, a glimmer of the grandeur of the event.

In much the same way, my pictures can only communicate a whisper of the the journeys and experiences that were shared by those of us who sweltered in the Black Rock Desert for a week in September of 1998. I hope that these images might prompt others to consider making this journey and that they might, as I did, learn something valuable about themselves, or the world around them, in the dark and light of the playa.


Be sure to visit the official Burning Man website at

My jackal flag at BM 98