burning man 2019 pavilion reimagines myth of andromeda for female empowerment

burning man 2019 pavilion reimagines myth of andromeda for female empowerment

john marx of form4 architecture pays homage to heroic women at burning man 2019 with an intricate and luminous pavilion entitled ‘andromeda reimagined: a sanctuary in deep playa.’ while drawing from philosophical and poetic themes, the project provides respite to visitors in the heat of the nevada desert.


driven by burning man’s art theme of ‘metamorphosis,’ marx — together with bay area-based art collective ‘playa muses’ — re-imagines the classical myth of andromeda, evolving the story from a male hero narrative to a story of female empowerment. the structure challenges the greek tale of andromeda, who was saved by perseus from a death sentence before attaining celestial immortality as a constellation. in the reimagining, andromeda — as a strong, independent woman — saves herself with the help of a supportive community.

all images by hannu rytky



intended to spark introspection among burning man goers, the surfaces of john marx’s pyramidal structure expresses ornate CNC-cut patterning which aim to evoke the starry heavens. exterior fins line the vertices of the pyramid, mimicking the swirling trajectories of the cosmos. when illuminated from within, the installation projects its whimsical light onto the nighttime desert floor.



‘andromeda reimagined’ beckons attendees toward its plush interior which pays homage to andromeda with four oval paintings by artist mary graham depicting the reimagined narrative, and a fifth hanging panel displaying the structure’s thematic poem, ‘how brightly.’ a bronze sculpture by mischell riley called ‘freedom and awaken’ rises eight feet and anchors the center. hanging markers prompt visitors to proclaim their own female heroes along the walls.



the structure itself relates to the infinite potential of the stars in the sky — specifically the andromeda constellation, but not in any literal way,’ explains john marx.the white star-shaped cutouts and the dramatic swirls represent the arc of planets and stars as they move across the sky.’



project info:


project title: andromeda reimagined: a sanctuary in deep playa

lead designer: john marx, AIA

location: burning man, black rock city, NV

year: 2019

creators: playa muses, a san francisco bay area art collective

project leader: brian poindexter

artists: mary graham, mischell riley

dimensions: 26 feet tall, 15 feet diameter; each side of the five-sided pyramid is 10 feet wide

materials: CNC-milled plywood on steel structure

burning man art theme: ‘metamorphosis’



‘how brightly’ by john marx, AIA

your life

is not measured by

how brightly

you might shine

 for one glorious moment

as the sun


but rather

 in how beautifully

 you add

 your light

 to the universe

 of stars

 in the evening sky

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