RAS Art Focus Group

Li Room at the Radisson Collection Hotel, Xing Guo Shanghai

Dragon Burn Panel Talk

Speakers: Sven Serrano, Mandy Embers & Ma Jin (Magic Ma)

Every year since 1990, artists, musicians and participants journey to a desolate, desert salt-lake bed in the north-western corner of the US state of Nevada to create a temporary community centered around a wooden effigy known as “Burning Man”. The event, which now attracts 70,000 people and the creation of many ephemeral artworks, has spawned satellite ‘burns’ across the world, including one in China. Last year, 800 participants came to a forest in Anji, built sustainable theme camps, played music, held DIY workshops and together built a Phoenix effigy which was burned on the last day. This session of the series “The Creative Ensemble” that explores art outside of museums and galleries will comprise of a panel discussion with some of the key members of the Dragon Burners who will discuss the principles and philosophy of the Burn, and also share their personal stories and experiences.

About the speakers:

Sven Serrano, originally from San Francisco, California, met some of the original founders of Burning Man through the urban prankster group The Cacophony Society and participated in an early ‘Zone Trip’ and the 1996 Burning Man in Nevada. In 2011 he became the Burning Man Regional Contact in Shanghai and recruited like-minded people to help organize a satellite Burn here in China, which culminated in the first Dragon Burn on an island in Lake Tai in 2014. Serrano works as a history teacher at Shanghai High School International Division and serves as the volunteer Librarian for the Royal Asiatic Society China.

Mandy Embers sets stages aflame across Shanghai and throughout China as a fire thrower and fire eater. Along with being a top-tier fire performer, she is also one of the main organizers of Dragon Burn, Shanghai’s regional five-day Burning Man event, serving both as the Minister of Art and Minister of Fire. She is also a current member of Burning Man’s Global Art Grant Committee, a nine-person team who disperses $100,000 of art grants annually to the most inspirational projects of the 300 applications that come in from around the world to create highly interactive art in public spaces around the world, including Scandinavia to Zambia and many places in between.

Ma Jin (Magic Ma) is a contemporary artist and the creator of multi-dimensional calligraphy installations. Ma graduated from the China Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and has engaged in museum design work and 10 years of artistic work. He has created effigies for the 2018 and 2019 Dragon Burn events.

Convener: Julie Chun, Art Historian and Art Critic

RSVP: artfocus@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn