Banned by Burn2

M2Danger Ranger
m2 Burner
EmCee Widget
Kev Sweetwater

Principals, Burn2

Vaneeesa Blaylock, Artistic Director, VB/CO

Refund for the space that you won’t allow me to use.

Dear M2Danger, m2, EmCee, and Kev,

On Monday, Ronon Carver, head of Burn2 security and apparently chief Burn2 art moderator, informed me that we would not be allowed to perform our work VB22 – The House With the Ocean View at Burn2.

Information on our performance is here:

Mr. Carver explained that our work was not art but “Corporate Marketing” which was not allowed. He said that the only way we would be allowed to participate in Burn2 is if the work was by an anonymous artist and we promised to never tell anyone who we are. Apparently artists at Burn2 are not allowed to have an identity.

Unfortunately, my work thru 21 performances in Second Life over the last year and a half has been all about identity. So to deny us an identity renders us slaves rather than artists.

He said that no one can ever claim authorship for anything at Burn2 and that I should have known that.

I don’t know how I would have known that since artist names were all over Burning Life ’09, my only previous experience with this event. I do understand that the management has changed this year, but it never occurred to me that the Burning Man organization would have an even more authoritarian and artist muzzling posture than Linden Lab itself.

Here are 2 images from Burning Life ’09:

The first is of myself and Burning Life ’09 Artists’ Duel Camp organizer Silene Christen. If you’ll notice the sign behind us, one that I did not make, but Christen the organizer made, my name is not anonymous but largely displayed along with a number of other artists. If you look at the small print at the bottom you will see that it also had a notecard giver to provide information and weblinks about the artists, all things that Mr. Carver has told me violate the spirit of Burn2.

In the second image you see a poster for our performance at the Burning Life ’09 Burn Stage. Again, the poster was not made by me, but by Burn Stage Coordinator Yman Juran. Once again the poster which was displayed on the playa throughout Burning Life ’09 prominently displays the name of the non-anonymous artist.

Given these practices at Burning Life ’09 I do not know how it would be reasonable for me to know that you require artists to have no name.

I understand that as a private organization, you have the right to exclude art you don’t like, but you took my L$8,000 under circumstances that were entirely false. You are requiring a drastically different level of submission from artists than the organizers of Burning Life ’09 did and I do not see any reasonable way I could have been aware of this. Therefore I believe you took my money under false pretenses and if you will not allow us to perform, I believe that you owe me a refund.

What I really believe is that you owe me the last month of blood and sweat and tears that I put into creating this performance that you will now not allow me to present, but I don’t suppose there’s a simple way to be compensated for that. I believe you at least owe me a refund of my L$8,000.

While I do not mean any disrespect to Mr. Carver, almost the most upsetting aspect of this experience is that you have chosen to have as your chief art moderator a security expert. Do you not even believe in allowing artists a modicum of self-determination? Surely there are Second Life artists or arts organization administrators who could perform your art moderation for you, and while they might still make decisions artists don’t always like, at least you wouldn’t be sending the additional message to artists that our opinion of you is so low that we won’t even allow your work to be moderated by someone who understands your culture.

I am trying to be as rational and non-dramatic in this letter as I can be, but there is no denying that I feel violated by you. Each week for the last month your Rangers have come by and given me a list of things to change.

I know that Burning Man and Burn2 have a degree of utopian thinking at their core, but I cannot believe how much you seem to want artists to bleed for the privilege of living in your utopia. I do not believe it can be a utopia if you are unconditional master and I am unconditional slave.

If the goal of Burn2 is to sterilize creative expression, crush the human spirit, and ban art, then you have already succeeded even before opening day.


Vaneeesa Blaylock

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

12 thoughts on “Banned by Burn2

  1. From what you said in your own write up, you did violate the rules, whether you like the rules or not you had to agree to them to take part in Burn 2.

    It is quite clearly written:
    BURN2 is completely non-commercial. There is no buying or selling in this city. No sponsorships, no logos; only acts of unconditional gift giving. Builds or content that seem like advertising will not be allowed. Advertising or recruiting for your groups will not be allowed, whether commercial, educational, recreational, charitable, or otherwise.
    “Unfortunately, my work thru 21 performances in Second Life over the last year and a half has been all about identity.”

    And the reason one needs identity as an artist (and I fully understand and would agreed we should be able to do it as artists) is to get more work, bookings, shows and that I am afraid is commercial.

    Then you have this rule:
    Automatic notecard dispensers are prohibited. BURN2 values live Resident interactions over automated machines.

    Sadly this rule was not adhered to and again I can understand wanting to have stuff given out to people about you, your work etc, but to build at Burn 2 we had to agree to it.

    So then it comes down to:
    Non-professional, high drama conduct, bullying, or failure to comply with BURN2 Policies or Linden Lab’s ToS or CS may lead to the loss of building privileges and sim access for an individual or group at BURN2.

    I would have hoped a warning was given first giving you the opportunity to alter things to comply, but if that happened and you decided to stand your ground then a ban is understandable and regrettable 🙁

    All I can suggest is you go hat in hand and say I will fix what is deemed a problem if you will allow me back. I understand that would bite hard though, and I am not sure I could do it myself either.

  2. SL a virtual world created by their in habitants, an extremely interesting tool to explore and make art. The variety is enormous.
    Because we can create this world ourselves and collaborate with pple spread from all around the world it has an intense power and the results can be breath taking.
    Unfortunately the results of these opportunities are outreaching the platforms where this art can be shown and experienced. To many platforms are organised by pple who are not curators and have no clue what art is standing for and how to organise a critical mass. They have no experience in collaborating with artists, to give them the right context and space to create and to reach an as wide as possible audience. They also have no vision of how to scratch and pull the boundaries to let creativity grow and expel.
    To overcome the incompetent attitude of the so-called moderators, rules are build and written down, and then after that even more rules get invented. The moderators hide behind these rules because they need to compensate their lack of vision.

    Vaneeesa is unique with her art performances and has a wonderful recognizable strong identity. When you spent 1 minute to understand where her art is standing for you realise that these RULES, are not the right ones and that they will stifle the Burn2 event . Because Artists make art, they need an audience , they need attention, they need a critical mass, but that does not make them commercial or drama seeking.

    I have the hope that Linden finally will take their artists and the art created in SL seriously. It is wearing constantly bumping into small-minded pple who have no clue with what they are dealing with.
    Burning life used to be a free place, a place to scratch and be wild.
    I hope my hope will not die in vain.

  3. Art Censorship has seeped into SL and now into BM-2? We’ve seen this kind of ridiculous behavior by others, for instance the censoring of the Maplethorpe Exhibit, or the Vatican, or Religious Groups offended an demanding clothing, leaves or shrouds be placed over private parts.
    Demanding no names? It’s ART! These rules are against the whole idea of at. Will the MOMA now have to cover the names of artist?
    Censorship in ANY form is just plain Wrong.

  4. In Re: to Rose
    It is painfully obvious you don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about. Burn2 has nothing to do with Linden Labs other than the fact that it is held there. The former Burning Life was sponsored by Linden Labs, that is no longer the case. Burn 2 is managed by Second Life residents and is part of the Real Life Burning Man organization.
    Seriously, have you had your head in the sand for the past several months or are you just kissing the ass of the half-witted, self-absorbed Howard Stern of what vaguely resembles performance art.
    Do yourself a favor Rose, next time your are about to climb on your soapbox to defend someone who thinks every rule she doesn’t like should be bent for her and her only READ THEM FIRST

  5. Thank you for correcting me DeeDee, your remarks put everything in the right light.
    So the organization of burn2 are not curators of an art-event??
    Did you really read my remarks and considered them or is your reaction just your eagerness of pushing me of the soapbox so you can kiss asses yourself.
    While you kiss them I put my head back in the ground because I would not like to be a witness of that.
    Have a happy Burn2 ,stick to the rules and kill of the art.

  6. As your SL president I urge all freedomfighters of SL to join forces in an ultimate attack to really burn those bastards down. Vaneeesa, you should be deelply ashamed that you are only banned now and not all the years before, but you are forgiven.
    Lets crash the BURN sim and boycot all artwhores who still participate in Burning Life.

  7. What will peopleat Burn see as the creator if they have hover tips on? ‘Anonymous’??

  8. Hi VB…

    I’m a few years late to the show here, but I’m baffled by the whole “corporate” thing. I mean, is Sean Kelly Gallery… erm, “Corporate”?

    It seems they gave the Security guy the job of handling this while the organizers hide behind the scenes. I feel you frustration, even now.

    Hugs, Yordie

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