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Johan Lindeberg Surrenders To Burning Man

Johan Lindeberg, the Swedish creative director behind J. Lindeberg and BLK DNM, recently returned from Burning Man. This is the diary of his festival experience, accompanied with photos by Darren Keith. Check out his previous visual diaries here

A gay friend during a dinner this week made a remark that he “can’t see who’s straight or gay.” It’s true. That’s Burning Man, and that’s what’s so special about the “non-border community.” Burning Man is beyond borders, religion, and politics. It’s just about good values. What makes it unique is that no one discusses money or ambition; the word self-promotion doesn’t fit here. It’s really more about self-expression. Everyone seems to feel so comfortable with themselves, and they also try to help each other out. It doesn’t feel forced. Rather, it feels as if people really care for other. It’s beautiful.

At Burning Man, I feel that I can be who I am. I was a brand builder for years, and I always felt that there was a disconnect between the mask I projected to the world and who I really was. I lost the purity of my own soul through the constant influence of the world. Here, I felt I could surrender and just be myself.

I grew up like this, in a bohemian university town in the south of Sweden. It was an environment where global values were more important than anything else; a community where the words “solidarity” and “togetherness” had real meaning; a place where people cared about each other. 

When I mentioned that I was going to Burning Man, someone said, “Oh, you’re going with all the tech billionaires who stay there a week to pretend to be spiritual.” I know the wealthy people of the art world would rather be seen at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland instead of Art-Basel, to show that they care about the world. There’s no doubt that it’s a trend to seem globally conscious. But there’s nothing wrong with trends when they go towards a greater good. A week at Burning Man helps us to reflect on our life experiences, and how people have the ability to care and share even amidst the greed and distrust we focus on. After Burning Man, I’m sure many of us will return home and become citizens of the world, beyond boundaries, and start to stand up for a better world.

Photos shot exclusively for Milk by Darren Keith. He is publishing a book called “Ritual: Images From Burning Man,” in 2016. Check out his Instagram here

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