Reasons was a fire art piece about suicide created and destroyed deep into the Black Rock Desert in 2013. It was simple: a gallows and hung effigy, on which we asked people to write any suicidal thoughts they or their loved ones have had, and which we then burned.
It was an emotionally intense piece for me to make, and I think for the rest of the team too. I feel blessed in that it seems to also have been a cathartic experience for others. Given that, and the extent to which the desert and Burning Man itself were as fundamental to the piece as the wood and people that made it, I have struggled to curate photos for it, and struggled further to explain it.
I think at this point that I will let the photos speak for themselves. At the end of this page, I've linked to some work that other people have made which feature the project. I've decided not to share photos that show in detail the writing; for those who are interested, some of the writing is visible in places that are out of my control. If you wrote on the piece and are looking for something, feel free to contact me and I'll see if I can help. While permission was obtained from the few people in these photos, my mission remains to those who wrote on the piece at Burning Man. If you're depicted and want something taken down, contact me and it will happen.
This would not have been possible without an amazing team. Courtney, Stu, Jason, Sue, Allen, Haley, Beth, Casey, Bonnie, and others: thank you. I love you.
More importantly, this would not have been possible without people who were willing to share of themselves that others might feel less alone. To all of you who wrote on Reasons, and to the Burning Man community: thank you many times over.
At Burning Man, I intentionally removed any signs of ownership from the project, including the title of the piece, our contact information, and the names of people involved. Hopefully, this allowed people to imprint whatever they needed to onto the piece. As a consequence, however, it was essentially impossible to find out anything about it until now. At this point, if you interacted with Reasons and would like to talk to us or share your experience with it, we'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
I send you all my love, hope, and strength.
Reasons in the Black Rock Desert.
This sign greeted people as they approached Reasons, explaining the project. At the top, the writing states, "If you or someone you love has been suicidal, please write why on the effigy. We will silently burn the effigy after midnight on Thursday."
|Meeting people who wrote on the piece. On the rare instances where this happened, it was a great honor for me.|
|Covered with writing, Reasons burned on Thursday night.|
|Seeing both friends and people I'd never met come out to watch the burn was exceptionally powerful for me.|
The remains were placed in the Temple to be consumed in the Temple Burn. The sign on the left was hung from the gallows after the effigy finished burning.
|Two of us with Reasons.|
In the hopes that the perspective of others who weren't involved with creating Reasons will help understand the piece, here are links to essays or videos where Reasons plays some role. I hope these provide a better sense of the piece than could be achieved otherwise. We were not in any way involved with any of the below projects.