Mebuyan by Leeroy New @Burning Man 2022

We are raising funds to bring Mebuyan, a unique and dreamy work by artist Leeroy New, to Burning Man 2022. This will be the first large-scale installation of a Filipino artist to ever take center stage at Burning Man over its 35 years of history.

The installation was already awarded one of the largest grants from the Burning Man foundation, but we need your help to make this project a reality. 

The project is run in collaboration with Pintó International, a non-profit foundation and art gallery devoted to the promotion of cultural diplomacy between Asia and the West through contemporary art. 

Mebuyan is a spherical architectural installation that encourages community and interactivity. A creative imagination of a "multi-verse," Mebuyan stitches together several bubble structures that allow people to move throughout the structure's different universes.  This monumental structure will span 40ft in height, 55ft. in length and 35 ft. in width.

Suspended approximately 10 feet above the ground, Mebuyan will look like a colony of interconnected bubbles of varying sizes. This network of spherical structures evokes an imaginative, three-dimensional visualization of a “multi-verse” that visitors can experience firsthand. A bamboo and metal structure will support spheres made of different materials, collected objects and discards, in line with the artist's practice of repurposing materials to take a new meaning and life. Inside, the spheres will be imprinted with cosmic, psychedelic patterns reminiscent of stained glass, transforming each pod into an isolation or meditation room. Consequently, the sculpture will offer different visual experiences externally and internally. 

Mebuyan will create an interactive space that permits a variety of engagement in tune with the freedom and needs of Black Rock City citizens. The structure will be a kind of "performative space" allowing visitors to merge with the sculpture: anything from a collective meeting space to an individual site of meditation, prayer, or contemplation. Being both an environment and an architecture, the level of interactivity is flexible and nearly infinite, adaptive to the spontaneous needs of its inhabitants.

In the words of the artist: “Mebuyan Vessel is a large-scale architectural interactive installation. The title comes from Mebuyan, a goddess from Filipino mythology, specifically the Bagobo mythology. (The Bagobo constitute one of the largest groups among the indigenous peoples of southern Mindanao, Philippines). She’s a goddess of life and death, of the afterlife, traditionally represented as a woman living underground, sitting on a wooden mortar, with breasts covering her entire body. She is said to be nourishing the dead spirits of children in the afterlife, so that they can grow up and continue on their journey to adulthood. It's my hope that the Mebuyan Vessel becomes a nourishing, transformative, and cosmic place for citizens of Black Rock City for their personal and collective growth. The idea is that each sphere represents a different world: people can access them and transit to the next via bridgeways. Some of the spheres are large enough to accommodate a small group of people, some just one person. As a visitor you will be journeying through very different experiences defined by lighting, texture, patterns, so that each sphere will have its distinct physical quality. The ensemble evokes the idea of a compact solar system of unique planets.

Most of my large-scale installations consider human activity, interaction, and performance as main components. I feel that my body of work is like a big performative playground. I very often collaborate with theater artists and dancers, and apply my sculptural training to accommodate the human body and its movement. This has often happened within the series of my ongoing project of the Aliens of Manila, in which I create wearable sculptures from dollar-store materials, discards, and assorted found objects that transform wearers into "aliens". I am personally interested in the politics and interplay between the "alien" and the "native," especially since Burning Man is a space that suspends hierarchy among people.

This Mebuyan Vessel is a dream project of mine. I’ve always been fascinated with science fiction imagery growing up: coming from a small town in the Philippines, before the internet, before a lot of the technological innovations we’ve seen in the past two decades, I looked towards sci-fi films, comic books, illustrated card games for inspiration and references for form. Movie Magic was a big thing for me growing up, as I was always fascinated with the idea of creating sets and worlds completely out of magic, and transforming the most common materials into a “believable illusion”. I feel that this non-literal interpretation of the goddess Mebuyan is my way of reinterpreting these mythological stories I have accumulated within me, all combined into this one structure."


Leeroy New (b. 1986, General Santos City, Philippines) is a Manila-based multidisciplinary artist whose practice overlaps and intersects with different creative industries, including installation, sculpture, fashion, production design, costuming, and performance. This inclination to move from one mode of creative production to another has become the spine of his practice driven by concepts of world-building and hybrid myth-making. 

Leeroy worked at his commissioned immersive, psychedelic, arresting installations all over the world: New York, Paris, L.A., Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taipei, Melbourne, Sydney, Thailand. Among his most notable collaborations and projects: he designed the costume for Lady Gaga that appears on the cover of "Marry the Night"; had a solo show at Pintô International in New York in March 2019 that was featured on Artnews, Artnet, Brooklyn Rail, amongst others; exhibited at the NoMad Hotel in Los Angeles in May 2019; exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in June 2019; was part of the Singapore Biennale 2008 and Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale 2009; was the recipient of the Asian Cultural Council residency in New York in 2015. Leeroy was also a recipient of a grant from Burning Man for a large-scale installation in Manila, the Pasig River Floating Island project in 2015.

Over the course of a 15-year creative career, New has built approximately 30 immersive and interactive installations, of which 10 were of dimensions comparable or larger than the proposed project. These were built often in very inhospitable settings, including a 40 feet tall and 60 feet wide bamboo spaceship-like structure called “Chrysalis” in the sand dunes of Paoay in the Philippines, that safely hosted and supported 50 people and was left to evolve and decompose with time, eventually lasting fully intact for more than a year; a floating island on the Pasig River in Manila capable of hosting 10 people; an immersive extension of an island on a river at Wonderfruit Festival that could support a large number of visitors passing through it daily.


Luca Parolari
New York, NY
Pinto Art Inc
Registered nonprofit
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