Into the Wild

London’s photo, “The Bankers,” captures performance art about the “bankruptcy of monetary currency” in Burning Man’s system of gift currency.

Scott London’s background is in print and radio journalism. But when he decided to cover Burning Man, the world he encountered in the desert of Black Rock, Nevada, was so “visually intoxicating” that he thought only photography could convey it.

So he picked up his camera again, after a long hiatus from shooting, and began snapping pictures of the astonishing artworks, machinery, vehicles, costumes, people and structures of Burning Man, photos that have been widely published (VogueGQ andSan Francisco Chronicle) and some of which he’s now showing at The Weekly’s Press Club.

“One of things [photojournalists] are known for… is standing on the sidelines and trying to document what is happening and faithfully record the truth as your camera sees it,” he says, before adding that doesn’t work at Burning Man, because the place is predicated on everyone being a participant and no one being a spectator. So among a sudden population of 70,000 “burners,” you get a zany diversity of creative expression.

“You’re going to have some people into tattoos and piercing, some more goth, some steampunk, some not wearing clothes, some people look imported from the Miami nightclub scene,” London says.

He’ll talk more about it in a Q&A at the reception for his photographs – presenting a storybook about a magical and fleeting place that one can actually visit.

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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