Inspiration for Cathenge

Cathenge was the original Cat Temple for Burning Man

 

Created in 2019 by David Normal, Cathenge inaugurated and consecrated a tradition of "Radical Cat Worship", a veritable "11th principle" of Burning Man that is such a no brainer 800 lb. liger lounging in a leisure suit in an overlit savannah of festive concepts that it boggles the mind and beggars disbelief that it never ever was done before!

Believe it or not, "Radical Cat Worship" had never been taken seriously enough in the hallowed inner circles of the intelligentsia of Burning Man to have ever received an Honorarium grant.  Yet, as we turn our gaze heavenward, and follow the compass of fortune's elliptic through the celestial vault, do we not discern the hand of inevitable destiny reaching from the very mists of the ancient past to reinvent the perennial wisdom in a new and modern form?  In a paroxysm of atavistic catharsis David Normal was struck with the idea of "Cathenge", proposed it to Burning Man, and was given a generous grant to realize the vision (for which he is most grateful for!)

The festival theme was "Metamorphoses", and many changes would transpire in the months preceding that most epic burn of 2019.  Our story begins on Easter in the Mojave Desert just outside Joshua Tree National Monument in the arts enclave of Yucca Valley where Normal had been invited to attend the art opening of Julia Sinelnikova, glamorous psychedelic installation artist from NYC at the Candy Rave Museum home of Marina Fini.  Julia crafts "Fairy Organs" from mylar and plexiglas that are abstract sensual mobiles of sleek yet complex organic forms that pulse and scintillate with uncanny illumination.   

Julia Sinelnikova and David Normal posed with prototype Catolith at Candy Rave Museum, Yucca Valley.

David Normal recorded Julia reading a mystical poem before her sculpture that night and then was chatting with some friends.  It was Paul Koudounaris, the erstwhile, "Indiana Bones", art historian and photographer of skulls and catacombs turned obsessive cat costumer that was suggesting that Normal do an installation for a local music festival.  As Normal entertained the idea and it was discussed back and forth he could not help but thinking that the installation must be about cats because Paul the cat freak was suggesting it.

Cat Photographer, Dr. Paul Koudounaris, photographing cats posed with a ram's skull at a cat shelter in Desert Hot Springs, California.

At the time, Normal was staying in Los Angeles and it so happened that there was a peculiar "mid-century deco" cat statue in the house.

Cat Statue that was the inspiration for the "Catolith".

It all fused in Normal's mind - Cathenge!  A circle of tall, elegant, mystical cat statues like the standing stones of Stonehenge but in the shape of Mid-Century Deco kitsch cats refined to Ancient Egyptian balance and scintillating in psychedelic rainbow luminescence like the fairy organs of Ms. Sinelnikova.  In an epiphany, Normal saw them standing in a ring and knew that it must be brought to life on a grand scale!

The vision of Cathenge seen on Easter Sunday, 2018

It all fused in Normal's mind - Cathenge!  A circle of tall, elegant, mystical cat statues like the standing stones of Stonehenge but in the shape of Mid-Century Deco kitsch cats refined to Ancient Egyptian balance and scintillating in psychedelic rainbow luminescence like the fairy organs of Ms. Sinelnikova.  In an epiphany, Normal saw them standing in a ring and knew that it must be brought to life on a grand scale!