The artist Ken Feldman and his studio Big Imagination were brutalised online in 2018 when their contribution to the Burning Man festival, a Boeing 747 airplane that was converted into a lounge and nightclub, was said to have remained stuck on the Black Rock Desert playa for weeks after the event, seemingly violating the festival’s cardinal “leave no trace” rule. But less turbulent times are on the horizon: the $1m artwork has found a permanent home on the less ecologically vulnerable outskirts of the Las Vegas strip, where it will be installed at Area15, an immersive arts and electronic music complex proffering elevated experiences.
The 150ft-long nightclub once served as a passenger jet in Brazil and was first installed at Burning Man in 2016, where it was one of the largest installations at the annual 80,000-person festival. The piece had gotten stuck on the soft floor of the playa when organisers attempted to remove it after the 2018 festival, prompting festival-goers and conservationists to call on the Bureau of Land Management to revoke Feldman’s permit and stop the installation from returning to the festival. It was nonetheless towed onto nearby private land according to schedule after the festival, and was cleared for a return trip in 2019.
The Area15 acquisition was announced on 25 March, inciting a flurry of comments from “burners", some of whom had accused Feldman of “abandoning” the plane in 2018.
“The 747 was a mostly-annoying pile of unrealised potential being run by a bunch of douchebags, so here’s to hoping that it can somehow be turned into something a little more interesting than an empty plane with a nightclub attached to it, and a piano in the back,” one person noted.