Sara Swaty

Burning Man 2017: Radical Ritual
Location: Los Angeles
Nationality: American
Biography: Sara Swaty is a Los Angeles based people and portrait photographer with a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work explores identity, gender, and disability. At the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2015, Sara was awarded the... read on
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Burning Man 2017: Radical Ritual
sara swaty
Sep 13, 2017

This year was my 3rd time attending Burning Man. Although I was prepared and excited, it was my hardest Burn yet, with temperatures averaging between 95-115 degrees. My setup is simple: small pop-up shade, tent, air mattress (upgraded from a sleeping bag), suitcase, and plastic drawers--but no air conditioning. Heat exhaustion forced me to take it easy during the day, unlike past years where we adventured every day, exploring the city and the art in deep playa. Thankfully, my camp is like family and we got to know each other better over sharing pickles and hardboiled eggs--no one was ever interested in trying my raw cabbage.

Although this year was slower paced, it still felt like a dream. It is a blessing to be in a city with 70,000 strangers and feel safe and loved. Burning Man is not a luxurious vacation, but it is full of magical surprises--a place where the smallest gesture or gift brings happiness. Whether it's getting blasted with a tube or air conditioning on the way to the porta-potties decorated with Christmas wrapping paper, a lovely hand-washing on the way walking to camp from sunrise, or singing "Baby got Back" in exchange for a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the Sammich Car--they all feel special, because someone worked their butt off to give you a little piece of joy.

The spirit of Burning Man resonates differently with everyone. I plan to continue attending as long as I am able because the feelings of freedom and safety are stronger there than anywhere else I have been. Each year feels like attending a family reunion. I love to learn and explore new things--the abundance of lectures, hands-on creating, and judgment-free options for participation are limitless. When I return to the default ("real") world, my body is worn, bruised, and sometimes bleeding, my mind is overwhelmed, and my voice is scratchy, but I would return next week if I could. This place feeds my soul.


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