QUEEN COBRA FOR BURNING MAN 2023
Hi, my name is Andrea Greenlees and I am fundraising for what will be my sixth and final large-scale art installation for Burning Man. It is important to me because I know it will be my last and because building big art for thousands of people to enjoy and interact with, both in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada and beyond, has been without a shadow of doubt the most exciting, fulfilling and uplifting experience of my life, and I believe these interactive artworks have provided many special and unforgettable moments for participants. That in itself gives me joy.
Queen Cobra is a very large art installation (about 25 feet high and 50 feet long!) made of gleaming powder-coated tubular steel and hand-beaten copper. It takes the form of a huge rearing cobra with a coiled body, a beautiful copper-scaled head topped with a magnificent crown, and a spreading hood. One of the most effective defensive mechanisms in the entire animal kingdom is the hood of the cobra. When frightened, a cobra will raise up to one-third of its length off the ground, and spread the anterior portion of its ribs. The ribs pull the skin and scales taut, and this display makes the cobra look much larger and more intimidating to potential predators.
The body of Queen Cobra is a hooped structure that invites climbing and play, appealing to the child in us all. A journey can be taken through the body from the tip of the tail to the crown on the head. Participants will be able to climb up through the spreading hood to a platform inside the Queen's crown and survey the Playa in every direction. Visually the installation will be very powerful and majestic by virtue of its size and materials and subject. Rearing up dramatically out of the dust it is intended to inspire awe and fun in equal measure.
The King Cobra is a very large, very long, highly venomous species of snake, but it is shy and will avoid humans whenever possible. There is nothing sinister or frightening about the artwork Queen Cobra. She is regal and powerful but inviting, and her beautiful crown adds an element of whimsy and fantasy.
Although many people fear them, snakes are amongst the most fascinating and intriguing creatures in the natural world. As a result of its unique qualities the snake has for centuries been one of the most widespread mythological symbols across the globe.
Snakes are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing as a result of their ability to repeatedly shed their skin, revealing a new skin beneath. In some cultures they are symbols of fertility and virility; in others they symbolize the umbilical cord joining all humans to Mother Earth. In ancient Egypt the cobra represented the goddess Wadjet, a deity who protected Egypt and the cosmos from chaos. In Cambodia serpents are represented as guardians of temples and other sacred spaces.
Queen Cobra therefore references the symbolism of many diverse cultures. Specifically, she represents the awakening of Kundalini, which is a form of divine feminine energy believed to rest at the base of the spine and symbolized by a coiled serpent. This energy in the body, when cultivated and awakened through tantric practice, is believed to lead to spiritual liberation. It is visualized as the uncoiling of the serpent from the base of the spine and ascending through different levels of awakening and mystical experience until it reaches the top of the head, leading to a profound transformation of consciousness.
Queen Cobra started life with a little clay model, to work out how to coil her body, followed by hand drawings and structural considerations, and then in a moment of epiphany she was crowned! As with my previous installations, the renders and 3D digital models and specs have been carried out by my son, Burning Man artist and architect, Josh Haywood (@hylemo), and as with It's a Chicken and Egg Situation (2017), Bebot (2018), and Bee Dance (2019) I am working with master steelworker Andy Tibbetts, (@lostmachineandy), at The Generator in Reno to create and build her.
The copper scales will be individually made, and hammered into a slightly pillowed, cushioned profile to catch the light.
WHAT YOUR DONATIONS WILL BE USED FOR
The target figure represents a fraction of the costs involved in creating Queen Cobra and bringing her to the Playa. Your contributions will be used entirely and exclusively towards the costs of materials and fabrication, and contributions of any size will be warmly welcomed and deeply appreciated.
I will post updates showing all the exciting stages during the course of the build!
I invite you to play your part in creating Queen Cobra.
And if at all possible come and climb her!
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Fundraising team: Yomi Ayeni (2)