Bring The Face to life at Burning Man 2022

Welcome to The Face. Click here to learn more.

A collection of souls from east to west, coming together to make a face.
  • Milen Nae
  • Deni Nae
  • Alaa Safa
  • Selin Anjel
  • Alper Nakri
  • Shahin Man
  • Loai Naamani
  • Sherif Koyess
  • Gabriella Corillo
  • Aslihan Kabukcu
  • Madison Redtfeldt

As far as we know, we didn’t choose when or where to be born. Nor how we sound or what we look like. But every choice since has been our own. Leading up to everything around us.

In a world obsessed with speed, greed, creed, and breed, we seek what reflects the best of us and inspires the best in us: away from a reality we do not prefer and towards a brighter 'waking dream' we all yearn for. A dream of any one of us alone is only a dream, while only the dream we dream together becomes our new, shared reality.

Art symbolizes both: the lasting record of our truth to date - expressed as beautifully as we could - and the driving compass for our steps to come - walked as confidently as we can - amongst all that we face in an ever-changing world. It shows where we stood, shines where we could head, and inspires us to choose…
The Face calls you to face yourself:

“Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving
It doesn't matter
Ours is not a caravan of despair
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come...”

- Rumi

The Face is an invitation. To connect with oneself, others, and the planet. It's an opportunity for discovery and acceptance. All-welcoming, The Face is a passive collocutor who guides without advice and inspires without dogma. The target is contemplative dialogue in the heart of its audiovisual energy field. The Face invites convergence within before diverging back to the world at large with a heightened sensibility for "whoever you are".

The Face is a journey. To walk its path, climb its stairs, and light its stars. The process is intentional and incremental: One after another. Each at a time. Every step is a leap forward. Akin to one’s own route to enlightenment, it takes curiosity and courage. The walk is alone, while poetry and music embellish the path of spiritual ascent towards the Third Eye. The gusty wind is what unites the suspended features of The Face to dance together in the sun and shimmer in its purple aura at night.

The Face is a mirror. To reflect life's history of evolution and diversity of organisms. Familiar to all but known to none, The Face is a nameless collage of nameless parts: biology as it forges an identity. Gazing into any mirror - from water to the eyes of another - reveals nothing but oneself reflecting the environment with all of its creatures. Only at this very moment of mirroring do we really get to see ourselves, and the human being can get to “know thyself”.

This Face is a connector. To bridge polarities on many spectrums: aquatic-terrestrial, spiritual-biological, fauna-flora, material-mental, past-present, East-West. The illustrations are ~200 year-old, open-sourced artworks by Haeckel, who named countless species and coined ‘ecology’ (biology branch dealing with relations of organisms to one another and surroundings). The poetry is Rumi’s, a Muslim Sufi poet who speaks a timeless truth with a universal tongue.

The Face is a spark. To evolve through inspiration and integration. The Face invites transformation through beauty and expression from authenticity. The unknown is always scary, but The Face makes it safer, easier, and faster. Beyond shame and fear of rejection, it offers a sanctuary to every "wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving", despite all the past "broken vows". Especially at Burning Man, where "ours is not a caravan of despair".

The Face silently but playfully urges a revisiting of the notions of change, diversity, and unity in today's world. With the Eastern Rumi's poetry (repeated in 8 languages) and the Western Heckel's drawings (magnified from microscopic beings), two voyagers of life and soul come together to ‘wake a dream’ at Burning Man, the world's mecca for art and radical self-expression.

The desert - once home to these same aquatic, single-celled organisms - becomes a play(a)ground for burners to complete The Face as they "Come, yet again" right inside it. To light it up, they need to become The Face and see the world anew from its center. As with most spiritual practices, from Buddhism to Sufism, the path is walked alone and the door is knocked from within.

Every face is the sum of its parts and more. While separate colors compose every rainbow, no rainbow is ever complete without them all. Identity is difference and diversity is identities interweaving a fuller symphony from a richer tapestry. This interdimensional synthesis belies the collective and cumulative identity omnipresent behind her Face.

The face behind The Face:

Milen Nae

Milen is an installation artist from Istanbul, Turkey, where she co-founded NAE Design Studio. She’s been working in the creative industry for over 12 years across Turkey, Spain, India, and the UK. She produces with a wide variety of themes: mythology, gender, sexuality, social justice, nature, and evolution. Keen on artistic collaborations, she enjoys evoking balance and communication in her projects. Her work is often described as ‘visions from Wonderland’, in which she weaves dreamlike compositions with interactive experiences in everyday spaces.

With a parent one Armenian - the other Jewish - and living in a Muslim country, she learned about differences and similarities from an early age. Being from the Queer community, she grew up constantly reminded of what separates us while choosing to focus on what unites us. Viewing diversity as a source of richness, Milen practiced her spirituality free from religion and her sexuality free from gender. Her art, on the other hand, remains free from materiality and the boxing limitations of galleries. Naturally drawn to the para-institutional and anti-establishment, Milen has been increasingly involved in political activism through art.

As she hitchhiked her way across Europe and Asia, Milen worked as painter or tailor in places she visited, until she found her tribe in the UK and learned to love community life. This experience helped provide her with the necessary tools to grow and innovate as an artist. Living in squat communities around Europe, she produced art installations of various materials and magnitudes and started providing stage and production design services for musical gatherings and festivals.

If ‘someone’s junk is another's art’, the garbage has been Milen’s treasure trove for as long as she can remember: an infinite supply of hidden gems to intermix and revive in resourceful ways. As much as she loves adventures and exploring alternative mediums and materials, her forte shines in solid three-dimensional techniques. Dizzying interactive art that’s experiential and contemplative in nature remains her core signature throughout her stroll in ‘Wonderland’.

Donations (98)

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  • Bettina Glenning
    • $50 
    • 1 yr
  • Gerardo D. Rodriguez Gomez
    • $25 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • $10 
    • 1 yr
  • Wojciech Kuropatnicki
    • $250 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • $200 
    • 1 yr
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Fundraising team (8)

Madison Redtfeldt
Brooklyn, NY
Sherif Koyess
Gabriela Carrillo
Team member
Raised $2,075 from 20 donations
Milen Nae
Team member
Raised $689 from 13 donations
Shahin Mani
Team member
Raised $630 from 9 donations
Alaa Safa
Team member
Raised $340 from 3 donations
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