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Marisha Farnsworth: The Temple


Summary Note

The 2017 Burning Man Temple designed by artist, designer, Marisha Farnsworth, was built entirely from 100 dead trees, calling attention to the 100 million dead pine trees in California’s forests. Materials include proposals, design drawings, correspondence, digital images, and press materials.

Biographical Note

Marisha Farnsworth is an artist and designer who creates public space interventions that address questions of place, functionality and collectivity. Marisha’s work focuses on future ecosystems, infrastructural utopias and the social and economic implications of materiality in the built environment. Embracing collaboration, Marisha has worked with interdisciplinary teams to develop waste-stream based building materials, and has a longstanding collaboration with the ecological engineering firm, Hyphae Design Lab. In 2009, Marisha co-founded Urban Biofilter, a nonprofit that combines ecology, urban planning and community-based design to reimagine urban ecology. Urban Biofilter’s projects, implemented from the port of West Oakland to informal settlements in Tijuana, have been funded by the Strategic Growth Council, and exhibited at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Marisha holds an Master of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley and a BFA from the Cooper Union and currently teaches at Laney College in Oakland, CA. In addition to co-founding The Natural Builders, a contracting company based in the East Bay, Marisha has conducted research and design and has traveled to work on projects for organizations including Builders Without Borders, Architecture for Humanity, and Kleiwerks International.

Marisha Farnsworth is the daughter of Donald and Era Farnsworth, the owners of experimental print house Magnolia Editions in Oakland, CA. She has been a long-time member of the David Best Temple Crew, and still produces architectural plans for the Crew’s work around the world.

Scope and Content

The Burning Man Temples are one of the largest structures at Burning Man, and provides a space for mourning and healing for the 70,000 participants who travel to the Nevada desert each year. In stark contrast with its surroundings, the Temple provides a quiet, contemplative space where participants bring mementos of people who passed away during the previous year. By the end of the week-long event, the Temple is covered with hand-written messages, objects and photographs, which are burned along with the structure in a cathartic ritual. The first Temple was designed and constructed by Bay Area artist David Best in 2000.

Drawing inspiration from the pine forests where the reclaimed material for this temple originated, the large timbers were assembled to create a delicate, interwoven structure, 150 feet across. Stepped columns supported a latticed canopy that spanned the structure. Stacked wood, configured into basket-like domes and cantilevers, created patterns of light and shadow. The central space focused on a void in the apex of the spire; a hole to see the sky through.

100 volunteers had only two weeks on-site to construct the 90-foot tall pavilion. The structural strategy, a repetitive stacking system, fostered ease of assembly, while supporting the primary program with a series of shelves and alcoves. The rough-sawn wood, streaked with blue and gray, revealed its origin: Beetle-kill pine salvaged from the tree mortality crisis in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Temple was built entirely from 100 dead trees, calling attention to the 100 million dead pine trees in California’s forests. Archive materials include proposals, design drawings, correspondence, digital images, and press materials.


This archive is arranged into four folders sorted by subject that follow the project development timeline.

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

3.5 cubic feet



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Related Publications

A Voyage of Growth and Discovery. Produced by Mike Kelley and Michael Smith. N.S.W., Australia: ArtPix, 2011. DVD.

Aqua Burn: a 2002 Burning Man film. Directed by Bill Breithaupt. Novato, CA: Adrenaline Network Studios, 2008. DVD.

As the Dust Settles: a Participatory Documentary Shot at Burning Man. Produced by Mike Hedge. United States: Trigantic Productions, 2013. DVD.

Binzen, William. Waking Dream. San Anselmo, CA: Smith Anderson North, 2016.

Blank, Herrod. Art Cars. Douglas, AZ: Blank Books, 2002.

Bowditch, Rachel. On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man. New York, N.Y.: Seagull Books, 2010.

Bruder, Jessica. Burning Book: Two Decades of Burning Man. New York, N.Y.: Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2007.

Burn Baby Burn: a film about the 2001 Burning Man Festival. San Francisco, CA: s. i., 2001. DVD.

Burn on the Bayou. Directed by Matt Leonard. San Francisco, CA: Black Rock City LLC, 2008. DVD.

Burn: The Burning Man Arts Festival. Directed by David Secter. San Francisco, CA: The Movie Secter LLC, 2000. DVD.

Burning Man 1998. Directed by Jim Babichuck. San Francisco, CA: Black Rock City LLC, 1998. DVD.

Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock. Directed by Damon Brown. Austin, TX: Gone Off Deep Productions LLC, 2006. DVD.

Burning Man: Where's the Fire? Directed by Fernando Velasquez. Los Angeles, CA: Seventh Arts Releasing, 1999. DVD.

Cash, Julian. The People of Burning Man: Portraits of Revolutionary Spirits. United States:, 2011.

Chen, Katherine K. Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Christians, Karen. Jewelry of Burning Man. California: Self-published, 2015.

Cohen, Scott. The Life Cube Project: The Journey from Burning Man to Downtown Las Vegas. Santa Rosa, CA: Global Interprint, 2014.

Confessions of a Burning Man: Experience the Journey. Directed by Paul Barnett and Unsu Lee. San Francisco, CA: Windline Films LLC, 2006. DVD.

Das Burning Man Projekt. Directed by Johannes Beckermann. Praha, Czech Republic: Art Cam Film Fernseh Production, 1996. DVD.

Diehl, Ronny. Burning Man: The American Frontier Revisted in Acoustic Space. Berlin, Germany: Grin Verlag, 2010.

Doherty, Brian. This is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground. Dallas TX: BenBella Books, 2006.

Dust Devils. Directed by Dearbhla Glynn, Woodbury, MN: Purple Productions, 2003. DVD.

Evans, Kevin, Carrie Galbraith, and John Law. Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society. San Francisco CA: Last Gasp Publishing, 2013.

Falco, Edward. Burning Man: Stories. Dallas, TX: Southern Methodist University Press, 2011.

Fall of Man: Burning Man 99. Santa Barbara, CA: East Beach Productions, 2001. DVD.

Five Themes of Burning Man. Directed by Mark McGothigan. Oakland, CA: Steam Power Video, 2002. DVD.

Folding Time and Space at Burning Man 2. Directed by Robert Henrikson. Hana, HI:, 2005. DVD.

Folding Time and Space at Burning Man. Directed by Robert Henrikson. Hana, HI:, 2004. DVD.

Folding Time. Directed by Robert Henrikson. Hana, HI:, 2003. DVD.

Fox, William L. Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 2002.

Fox, William L. The Black Rock Desert. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2002.

Fox, William L. The Void, the Grid & the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2000.

Fraunfelder, Mark. et al., The Happy Mutant. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995.

Gifting It: A Burning Embrace of Gift Economy. Directed by Renea Roberts. Cerrillos, NM: R3 Productions, Inc. 2002. DVD.

Gilmore, Lee, and Mark Van Proyen, eds. AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Man. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

Gilmore, Lee. Theater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010.

Glade, Philippe. Black Rock City, NV: The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man. San Francisco, CA: Real Paper Books, 2016.

Glade, Philippe. Black Rock City: The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man. San Francisco CA: Real Paper Books, 2011.

Goin, Peter. Black Rock. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 2005.

Guy, NK. Art of Burning Man. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 2015.

Huang, Vincent. Burning Man. Japan: Self-published, 2001.

Jones, Steven T. The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture. San Francisco CA: Consortium of Collective Consciousness, 2011.

Juicy Danger Meets Burning Man. Produced and directed by David Vaisbord. Vancouver, B.C.: Herkules Productions in association with d-Network Pty. Ltd., 1998. DVD.

Kreuter, Holly. Drama in the Desert: The Sights and Sounds of Burning Man. San Francisco CA: Raised Barn Press, 2002.

Krukowski, Samantha, ed. Playa Dust: Collected Stories from Burning Man. London: Black Dog Publishing Limited, 2014.

Kuehn, Karen. Cargo Cult. ROGUE Publishing, 2014.

Kuehn, Karen. MetropoLOVE: Art and Love on The Playa. Peralta, NM: Self-published, 2012.

Kuehn, Karen. My Eyes are Burning. Peralta, NM: Self-published, 2010.

Loewy, Tomas. Radical Burning Desert: Burning Man Photography 2004 – 2010. Self-published, 2011.

Nash, A. Leo. Burning Man: Art in the Desert. New York, N.Y.: Harry N. Abrams, 2007.

Neurotic Burns: Johnny Does Burning Man. Produced by John Mendel, Curt LaFurney, Brian Stuart Hanish. Hollywood, CA: Upside Down Tv, 2006. DVD.

Pendell, Dale. Inspired Madness: The Gifts of Burning Man. Berkeley, CA: Frog Books, 2006.

Post, George P. Dancing with the Playa Messiah: Neon, Fire & Dust: A 21-Year Burning Man Photo Album. Richmond, CA: Dragon Fotografix, 2012.

Priestley, Joanna. Burning Man Eyes Open. Self-Published: 2016.

Priestley, Joanna. Children of Chaos @ Burning Man. Self-Published: 2017.

Raiser, Jennifer. Burning Man: Art on Fire. New York, NY: Race Point Publishing, 2014.

Roberts, Adrian, ed. Burning Man Live: 13 years of Piss Clear, Black Rock City's Alternative Newspaper. San Francisco, CA: RE/Search Publications, 2009.

Sensation: A Trip to Burning Man. Directed by Laurent Le Gall. San Rafael, CA: Free Run Pictures, 2003. DVD.

Spark: A Burning Man Story. Directed by Steven Brown & Jessie Deeter. Woodside, CA: Spark Pictures, 2014. DVD.

Spinelli, Frank. Burning Man: Into a 21st Century Utopia. Littlehorn Press: 2014.

Substance TV. Produced by Mike Wilson. Austin, TX: SubstanceTV Inc., 2002. DVD.

The Burning Man Festival. Directed by Joe Winston. Chicago, IL: Ow Myeye Productions, 2001. DVD.

The Burning Man Project: Renewal Cut. Directed by Bill Breithaupt. Novato, CA: s. i., 2000. DVD.

Traub, Barbara. Desert to Dream: A Decade of Burning Man Photography. San Francisco, CA: Immedium, 2006.

Uchronia Community. Uchronia Community: Message Out of the Future. Belgium: Uchronia Community, 2006.

Wieners, Brad, ed. Burning Man. San Francisco CA: Distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West, 1997.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 118

    • Folder 1 Concept Development, 2014 – 2017
    • Folder 2 Correspondence, 2017
    • Folder 3 Fundraising and Press Materials, 2017
    • Folder 4 Project Actualization, 2017

Additional Materials

    CAE Box 77 Small Objects

    • 4-#33 The Temple 2017, Pendant, 2017
    • 4-#34 Temple 2017, Button, 2017

    CAE Box 113 Large Objects

    • #35 Temple 2017 Crew, ID Badge, 2017

    CAE Flat File F5 Oversized Items

    • 1#13 Large Temple Rendering, Drawing, 2017

    CAE Flat File F19 Oversized Items

    • 1#14 Medium Temple Rendering, Drawing, 2017

    CAE Stand-Alone Box

    • #15 The Temple, Model, 2017