The Playa A personal project.
The 'Playa' at the annual Afrikaburn festival is the epi-centre for radical self-expression within a temporary society built in a South African desert that sees fifteen thousand people break their constraints with society for one hedonistic week each year.
This is to be who they truly want to be, without judgement, and this is the annual Afrikaburn festival held in the Tankwa Karoo desert, some four hours’ drive north of Cape Town. A regional event of Burning Man in the United States and at its core sees its-self as a human experiment where one of the ten guiding principles is 'Radical self expression'.
This body of work is a document of the annual Afrikaburn festival photographed over a period of twelve years while on assignment for EPA Photos (European Pressphoto Agency) with the aim to record this radical self-expression at Afrikaburn.
Radical self expression / Radical self reliance
The question in mind is: What effect does this self-expression have on normal society. Leaving their day jobs behind, Burners can spend months making and preparing their new Burn outfits, buildings art cars, conceptualizing and constructing art works and in general letting their creative sides manifest into the self-expression rarely seen in their “default worlds”, or normal society as the burners describe the world outside the Burn.
Radical self expression can take any form it wants, or you want, as no person is judged by another for what they wear, say, perform, build or act out.
Like some huge organic art festival, burners appear on the Playa in the late afternoon, into the evening, wearing their best and most expressive outfits; ready to impress, shock and at times challenge the norms of society. A veritable orgy of expressive energies is on display.
Afrikaburn's radical self-expression thus becomes a mirror to the norms of society that have kept that society glued together for decades.
Some observers comment that the Burn is simply a massive party in the desert, however taken from the point of view of being a human experiment the Playa and its self-expressive humans become a temporary vessel for the human condition.
In doing so Afrikaburn forms an important annual events that see the limits of radical self-expression being pushed at the over forty regional and national Burns around the globe. Expanding and growing from its origin, Burning Man in the United States.
Time will tell if Afrikaburn succeeds in its own illusion-al grandeur as a human experiment and if will indeed blaze a new path as a subculture that will in anyway influence the norms of society. Party on.