6 Miles of Ribbon

You know how when you show up at Burning Man right at the beginning of the event… Monday at 8am and you go looking for a good place to camp and you get all depressed because  the whole frickin playa has already been marked off with rope? “Sorry, you can’t camp here, my friends will be along with our dome later in the week.”

Here was my plan: mark off every single inch of camping space with rope and ribbon and twine and sheets and signs. There won’t be a single place to camp on the whole frickin lake bed. The only way anyone will be able to park their RV within 5 miles of the Man is to tear down “someone elses” property marker.

You see, we’re always stepping on someones toes. We’re always taking someone else’s space. Every inch of this planet is already in use by someone or something else. The only way anyone can make their own way in this world is by taking the resources of another. Taking other people’s possessions makes us uncomfortable, but it’s the only way we can live. Identifying and clarifying that sense can help us live our lives better.

That’s my artistic statement and I’m sticking to it.

I was at Ikea a few Christmases ago and they had red ribbon on sale… Normally $2 per roll, they had these giant bins and were selling it for $0.11 each. So I bought 6 miles of it. I would have bought more but I couldn’t carry any more. I figured that would be a good start to the project. With a little more planning, I started begrudging the potential amount of work the project would take. First, I needed to show up at least 10 days before the event because, gosh darn it, I had shown up 4 days early in 2006 and the land grab had already happened! Then, I recalled, after everyone had gotten the artistic message, I’d have 6-20 miles of ribbon and metal stakes to clean up. Feh. And I’m sure that at least 1/4 of the attendees wouldn’t fully appreciate those educational first frustrating hours I caused them, driving around looking for a place to camp and then finally giving in and camping on “someone elses” marked off area. (of course, the whole purpose of the project is to generate that feeling of discomfort so they can understand it better)

So, I decided to dump the project and get rid of my ribbon supply. You may have seen me in front of my garage, or at Really Really Free Market or just walking the streets of San Francisco asking… pleading you to take a roll of ribbon. “Buy one for free, get one for free!” “Take 2! They’re small!” “The holidays are coming up!” “Take my ribbon, please!”

Giving away ribbon has been fun but it’s going waay too slow. I think I’ve given away maybe 50 rolls but I’ve still got another 100.

Want some ribbon?

I’m going to list it on the Burning Man Artists Announce mailing list today. Maybe someone has a need for a few miles of ribbon.


  1. Matthew says:

    good afternoon, my name is matthew aka TwinkleToes –
    i utilize alot of string, and can put such material to good use.
    I heard of your offer to uload the ribbon on Artist Announce-

    i am a Burning Man commisioned artist – i have had the good fortune to share my work with the people of the playa since 1999

    you can see the kind of stuff i create at http://www.grindergurlz.blogspot.com
    curious if i may have your ribblo – i promise to make something fab outta it…
    – thanks

  2. Michael says:

    Did you know that your google ads are displaying a “Yes on prop 8” ad? Do you support that? i bet you don’t…

  3. lee says:

    Thanks for pointing it out.
    I had the ad removed. Or at least it’ll be gone shortly. In the mean time, click the link as much as you want. Those ads cost them money.

  4. lee says:

    Much to my dismay, Prop 8 passed. I thought for sure it would fail. I voted against it and had (illegally) gambled as such on intrade.com. When I saw people on the street with signs and such, I thought, “why are you bothering to even ask anyone? Of course it will fail?”

    I looked at the (public) poll records for Visitacion Valley and it turns out that the majority wanted the measure to pass there, the polling place in San Francisco that I was Inspector for yesterday.

    Feh. I feel dirty and partially responsible for it passing.

    Voting is important. Electioneering is important.

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