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Burning Man Unveils 2023’s ‘Temple of the Heart’

Written by Nick VeroninContributors Maryann Jones ThompsonPublished Jan. 13, 2023 • 12:00pm
The artists rendering of Burning Man 2023 Temple of the Heart by Ela Madej and Reed Finlay. | Courtesy Burning Man Project

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As the Bay Area battens down the hatches for more wet weather, local Burners may be pining for the dry heat of the playa. Amid the deluge of yet another atmospheric river, the Burning Man Project has sprinkled the Burning Man community with some news, unveiling plans and digital renderings for the 2023 Black Rock City Temple.

Dubbed the “Temple of the Heart,” this year’s sacred space was designed by artists Ela Madej, a San Francisco-based 11-year veteran of the Burn, and Reed Finlay, an architect from Ojai, California. The design is the first physical one to be selected in three years because of the pandemic (though a digital Temple was raised for the Virtual Burn held in 2021.)

The artists’ rendering of the 2023 Temple of the Heart by Ela Madej and Reed Finlay | Courtesy Burning Man Project

Temple of the Heart will take the shape of an upside-down desert flower, its stem stretching high above the ground—functioning as both a beacon and a sundial. At its center, the “Heart Chamber” will invite visitors to be still and contemplative, while its walled-off outer ring will be outfitted with 12 alcoves, each with seating.

Madej, who is originally from Kraków, Poland, is a member of the Hotel California camp, and has a reputation for building tall structures on the playa. As a mother, she is interested in imbuing the 2023 temple with feminine energy. Reed, the co-lead on the temple build, will lend his expertise in sustainable design.

Inside the Temple of the Heart, the Rose Altar will consist of flowers made by the community to represent “stories of grief, love and connection.” | Artists’ rendering courtesy Burning Man Project with Ela Madej and Reed Finlay

The Temple in Black Rock City is the second major structure constructed for each annual event in the desert outside Gerlach, Nevada. The weeklong gathering culminates on Labor Day weekend with the burning of The Man on Saturday night and The Temple on Sunday night. 

Burn night for the Temple of Grace at Burning Man 2014 | David Best for Burning Man Project

The Temple serves as a space for healing and worship. Many attendees spend time in meditation and prayer inside and leave totems of lost loved ones to be burnt with the structure in their memory.

In a post on The Burning Man Journal, Burning Man’s official blog, authors Katie Hazard and spec provided more detail on the Temple of the Heart.

The Temple of Transition stood on the playa in 2011. | Neil Girling for the Burning Man Project

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Nick Veronin can be reached at [email protected]


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