Thousands descend on Negev for Midburn
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Thousands descend on Negev for Midburn

Second annual desert festival, Israel’s version of Burning Man, celebrates radical culture and self-reliance

Revelers watch the wood installations burn at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man, on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Revelers watch the wood installations burn at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man, on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Israel’s second annual Midburn festival attracted nearly 7,000 revelers to the Negev Desert over the weekend. They held all-night raves and interacted with giant art installations, all with the aim of exploring the meaning of life and challenging the authority of the Man.

The festival, modeled after the annual week-long event held in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, set up a temporary city “creating a platform which will allow a communal life style, creativity, art and radical self-expression,” according to the festival website.

Midburn plays on the words midbar (Hebrew for “desert”) and “burn,” the culmination of any Burning Man event, when a wooden effigy of the proverbial Man is burned. The festival is described as an experiment in community, art, self-expression and self-reliance.

This year, the festival hosted 67 art installations, and bore a clear directive to help the Negev region by attracting visitors. It went ahead after weeks of wrangling between organizers and police, who sought to increase surveillance on the festival’s grounds and place restrictions on nudity.

Many participants created theme camps revolving around music, art, meditation, food, or performance. Typically, artists work in teams for months prior to the festival to create giant art installations across the desert floor. There is no money exchanged during the festival (except for ice). Participants dance at all-night raves under the stars, hug rather than shake hands, and try to leave the desert spotless when they leave.

Midburn participant watches an installation burn at the second annual festival modeled after America's Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Midburn participant watches an installation burn at the second annual festival modeled after America’s Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A woman at the second annual Midburn festival,  the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A woman at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Costumed party-goers dancing during the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Costumed partygoers dancing during the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A Midburn participant a twirls flaming baton at the second annual festival modeled after America's Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A Midburn participant twirls a flaming baton at the second annual festival modeled after America’s Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A participant in costume at Midburn. The second annual festival modeled after America's Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A participant in costume at Midburn, the second annual festival modeled after America’s Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A participant of the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A participant at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Participants at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Participants at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Participants at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Participants at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Participants gather at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Participants gather at the second annual Midburn festival, the Israeli version of Burning Man on May 24, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
An installation at Midburn, in the Ramat Negev Regional Council, on May 24, 2015 (Photo by Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
An installation at Midburn, in the Ramat Negev Regional Council, on May 24, 2015 (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A couple at Midburn on May 24, 2015 (Photo by Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A couple at Midburn on May 24, 2015 (Kelmer/Flash90)
A woman at Midburn on May 24, 2015 (Photo by Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
A woman at Midburn on May 24, 2015 (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Revelers at Midburn on May 24, 2015 (Photo by Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Revelers at Midburn on May 24, 2015 (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
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