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Meet Daniela Ardizzone of Venice Afterburn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniela Ardizzone.

Daniela, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Back in Florence, Italy, I was deeply connected with the contemporary art scene.

In the late 90s, I was part of a few artists groups who occupied abandoned buildings and organized amazing 2-day art and music events.

In 2003, I moved to Venice Beach, California, and besides working as a filmmaker and editor, I founded a group called ‘Dogtown Artists United’ with some other local artist and organized art events in non-traditional spaces, either abandoned buildings this time not illegally, but with actual permission of the property manager – or warehouse and office spaces.

The goal was to reinvent the space by transforming it into a one day art happening, through the collaboration of an enthusiastic group of local artists who came together to make it happen. Within 24 hours, space was transformed and full of people, in the end, everyone would help clean up and the place ended up being cleaner and nicer than when we entered. It was incredible the amount of energy that came in from so many people to make this happen, everyone was volunteering their time because they really believed in this.

In the meantime, I would go to Burning Man every year – 2018 will be my 15th year in a row – and I was in love with the giant scale art built out there on the playa. So, my art shows were very inspired by that type of art and tied to the Burning Man community, based on interactivity and visually striking pieces.

Over the years, I had one constant, secret dream: to bring the Burning Man art to my beloved Venice Beach.
And so it happened, in 2014.

As part of the Venice Art Crawl – a non-profit organization that facilitates collaboration between artists and venues – and with a great, enthusiastic team (Eduardo Manilla and Sunny Bak) the first Venice Afterburn happened. A whole block on Rose Ave was closed off to car traffic and populated for one day by art cars, installations, painters, DJs and hundreds of people came to dance.

In 2016, we moved the event by the Venice boardwalk, on the Windward Plaza. This was, in a way, my long time dream come true: I was bringing Burning Man to the beach. Big art cars, such as the well known Charlie the Unicorn car, hosted DJs by the beach while you could hear the sound of the waves crashing onto the breakwater.

It was incredible! Also, so many art installations that were coming straight from the playa, still dusty, set up by tired but happy artists.

It was only one year later, in 2017, that the Venice Afterburn finally became and official Burning Man Regional event and was more successful than ever and was baptized as the best event of the year in Venice Beach.

It is a 2-day event (daytime and early evening only, 12 pm to 10 pm) with free entrance, with art cars, interactive art installations, Burning Man theme camps, live painters, live music, DJs and fire performances. This year the dates will be September 21 and 22; the big news is that we are adding a third day, Sunday the 23rd, that will end at sunset (around 7 pm) and will be focused on unplugged music, healing, speakers, and community-oriented workshops and talks. We will focus on community social and environmental issues and brainstorm ideas of how to solve them. We will also talk about the 10 principles of Burning Man and explain what it means to people who have never been to Burning Man.

Has it been a smooth road?
The Venice Afterburn is a free event. By keeping it free, it manages to blend the burner community with the local artist community and that’s what makes it so special and different from any other event. Anyone can participate and come wonder and enjoy the art. This brings up many challenges, the main one is raising the funds throughout the year that are needed to produce such a big event. The second one is keeping the area safe.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I think that what sets me aside from others is that I do the Venice Afterburn just for the love of what I do and to make people happy. I don’t do it for money, in fact, I don’t make one cent off of any of my events, it’s all volunteering but that is what makes is feel special.

When people come and look at me straight in the eyes saying how grateful they are and how amazing the event was, it fills me with love and love is what makes life better and happier.

When the event is all set up and I can finally relax, I just look around and try to take it all in, because it’s about to be over and it really fills me with joy to have created this Afterburn community.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
With the intensifying of the gentrification in Venice Beach, it has been more and more difficult to hold art events that are not mainly business oriented.

The art community has fewer spaces to show their art, and the ‘unconventional’ spaces where to host pop up art shows are gradually disappearing. So yes, it is very difficult to have such events in Venice Beach. Fortunately, we have been working very well with the Department of Recreation and Parks and we established a great relationship with them, so the permitting process and event run smoothly.

It would be great to have more spaces to have art events in Venice, it seems that lately a good portion of the art community is moving to Mar Vista. We still love Venice but it doesn’t have the same flavor as 5 or 10 years ago, with the big tech companies moving to Venice and buying/renting most of the best spaces and lots of artists having to move out.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tony Edwards, Venice Paparazzi, Jo Ash Photography, Katie Doner Photography, Ko Yu

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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