Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti's Paper Arch

Meet the Artists of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

This is an image of an arch created by Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti at the Renwick Gallery.

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Paper Arch, 2018. Photo by Ron Blunt.

On view from March 30, 2018 to September 16, 2018

Since 2013, Michael Garlington and his partner, Natalia Bertotti, have teamed up to create large-scale installations based on religious structures, incorporating Garlington’s elaborately framed, signature photographs, which explore the range of human experience between “the horror and the wonder,” the two extremes of being. Two of these—Photo Chapel (2013) and Totem of Confessions (2015)—were created for Burning Man and burned at the conclusion of the event. Though influenced by David Best’s temples, one of which Garlington helped build, these installations are meant as places of raucousness and whimsy rather than solemnity and silence.

Paper Arch, commissioned specifically for the Renwick, expands the pair’s canon into secular architecture and evokes the symbolic threshold participants cross as they enter Burning Man. Exploding into a plume of paper flames that rises to the ceiling, the piece also suggests the ritual conclusion of the weeklong event and calls attention to the sculpture’s ephemeral nature.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man brings the large-scale, participatory work from this desert gathering to the nation’s capital for the first time. The exhibition takes over the entire Renwick Gallery building and surrounding Golden Triangle neighborhood, bringing alive the maker culture and creative spirit of this cultural movement.