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Burning Man changes theme title for 2021 edition due to “colonial history”

The original name has been retitled to The Great Unknown

Burning Man has changed the title of its 2021 theme due to the original title's "colonial history".

Despite ongoing uncertainty about whether the gathering will take place this year or not, an update was shared to The Burning Man Journal earlier this month (16th), in which its organisers announced this year’s theme: Terra Incógnita, which translates to mean “unknown land”. The event's organisers have now decided to change the theme's title, after "learning that the phrase has a colonial history, and it reflected back some of [their] own implicit biases and default perspectives."

Burning Man have confirmed that a more detailed statement regarding the event's retitling — which is now The Great Unknown — will be released in the future, the Reno-Gazette Journal reports.

In January this year, Burning Man's organisers said it is “impossible to say right now” if the flagship festival would go ahead this year. Speaking in an update, the team said: “After a year without Black Rock City we’re all longing to reconnect – for a going home after all that staying home. Yet our enforced apartness has also served as a powerful reminder that the idea of home is just that – an idea – and not a particular place.

"Quarantine has led us to rethink the very meaning of place, and rid us of certain illusions about it – like the notion that our city was always there somehow, always a certain way, which was never true at all. It was always a figment of our collective imaginations, and fundamentally different each and every year.”

In May last year, Burning Man launched Kindling, which was followed by the launch of its online Multiverse in September. In August, a documentary all about the art at Burning Man was also released.