Curate 757


Mega Cake

The artistic vibrancy of Norfolk Virginia was celebrated at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada in 2019 thanks to a collaboration of local artists on the creation of Mega Cake.

AIRED: January 08, 2020 | 0:09:37

(cheerful music)

- [Crowd] Oh my god!

- Burning Man is an annual event in Nevada.

It's an arts event where the people bring

big art from all over the world.

(upbeat pop music)

- I like the idea of building something to be burned down

because it lets it not be so precious,

we can take some risks with the design.

(upbeat pop music)

- Cake is not meant to last forever,

it's meant to be consumed,

and the ephemerality of Burning Man

is one of its most important aspects.

(upbeat pop music)

- We'll probably go ahead and this round,

just for our tester, use screws,

so don't drive 'em in so much it strips it,

we wanna make sure we can pull those out,

'cause while they're in place,

we'll go ahead and drill our holes for our bolts.

Technically I'm the Lead Artist, that's my title,

as far as the Burning Man organization goes,

but it's a group project.

- My name is Cristina Fletcher, I'm a landscape designer.

We had all became friends,

meeting at the Hermitage Museum

when they had their Art of Burning Man thing, in Norfolk.

Everybody was over at my house for a pool party

and I was talking to Thom about it,

it's like, I really wanna build a birthday cake,

and I kinda sketched it out on a napkin

or a piece of paper or something,

and he was like oh, I love this idea!

And, he came back with this sketch of a 25 foot tall

cake structure that was way more

than I had ever imagined or planned but looked great.

This was our friendship cementing project.

(upbeat pop music)

- My name's Jeremiah Sheffield.

The skill set that I bring to this project is primarily

going to end up being on the installation side.

When it comes to working overhead,

working in aerial equipment, lifts, bucket trucks,

things like that.

(upbeat pop music)

- I'm an artist, a mom, and a writer.

I do all of the social media

on our Instagram side of the page,

and then I'm also the Glass Artist.

(upbeat pop music)

- The problem is this,

this is what needs to fit in the truck.

- Yeah, we've gotta merge these two together.

- We just got a grant from the Love Burn in Miami,

which is a regional burn.

Because it's a beautiful location,

the logistics are a lot easier there

than out in the middle of the desert.

Right now what we're working on,

the top tiers of the Mega Cake, to put in a truck,

take to Florida, put it up, have fun with it for a few days,

take it down, bring it back, and basically do a trial run

for when the stakes are higher out in the desert.

(mellow pop music)

We're at day two of the Love Burn build

and this has been hugely important

for preparations for the Mega Cake out in the desert.

(mellow pop music)

- We're really grateful for this experience

because it's taught us that if we had thrown ourselves

into the full version before now

we would've been in over our heads.

(cheerful music playing and fireworks exploding)

- We're gonna load it back up,

take it back to the maker space,

let it dry out for a little while, hopefully,

and then we're gonna start cutting

the next three tiers that go underneath this one.

(mellow pop music)

- Major successes were the cake went together

with very little modification or new fabrication on site.

We showed up and we put the thing together and

we partied on it and then we took it apart.

Then Brian Wiener, who's one of the organizers,

invited us to do the effigy at Love Burn next year.

(everyone cheers)

(mellow pop music)

- We are at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens in Norfolk

doing the test build

of the first two tiers of the Mega Cake.

(mellow pop music)

- Since the Miami burn, we learned we needed more people,

so, that was like the big part.

- This also has a lot of components to it that the

tiers three and four in Miami did not have,

like the calendar on the first level,

the slide, which is probably one of the crown jewels

of the Mega Cake.

(mellow pop music)

- The Hermitage build was hugely important

because we realized that we had some problems

in the way it was laid out that caused corrections

that we went through there,

at the Hermitage as opposed to in the middle of the desert

where we had the clock ticking for the whole piece.

(mellow pop music)

- So, Thom has a checklist, we know what's on the checklist,

and everybody's really great about making sure

those things get checked off and, yeah, we're finished.

We're finished, it's crazy, it feels crazy!

'Cause we've been working on it for so long.


- We might wanna punch each other!

We finished a big portion of what we needed to do,

which was to get this cake on the road to Nevada.

(mellow pop music)

- Monday at build week, we arrived in the morning,

we checked in, we got taken to our site,

we had just enough time to go find our campsite,

and then get back over there before the

container truck arrived at 2:00 p.m., right on the dot,

which was just incredible.

- So, just real quick, if you're tired,

make sure you take a break.

If you are down below, please try to wear a hard hat.

(mellow pop music)

What makes it art to me is like what other people do to it.

At Love Burn, one of the girls was like make a wish!

And we're like, how did we not think

that that was like, part of the birthday cake,

to say make a wish, not just to write your birthday

on the calendar but, it's the part of the art

where everybody else is making it their art.

(crowd cheering)

- I'd say that there were six or seven weddings,

if not more, and then there were continuous birthday parties

happening where we actually had people sitting

inside or outside with a full cake

that they brought from somewhere, and,

all week people would break out into "Happy Birthday".

♪ Happy birthday to you! ♪

(mellow pop music)

- I know at this point I'm ready to let go

of the cake as a physical entity, and,

the thing that I'll mourn the most

is just having this project to work on together every week,

this reason to be together.

- One of the main principles of Burning Man is

you being in the present moment is the most important moment

and so, wonderful artists just spend their lives

building these amazing structures and then

we all get to watch them burn it down.

It's really fun.

- This project and the process of making it formed

lifelong friendships with these folks, and,

more than that I feel indebted to them for

not only the success of the project, but the support.

- [Man] Go, go, go!

- [Crowd] Oh my god!

(crowd cheering and clapping)

- [Woman] Wow!

- [Thom] It couldn't have happened if it wasn't our group.

(mellow pop music)


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