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Finding ‘ability to dream’ at Burning Man

An escape from daily life can be found next week at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. Photographer Peikwen Cheng has attended and photographed the event nine times since 2000.

Cheng's ongoing “Lost and Found” series draws from his experience of “losing the ability to dream and then refinding it,” he said.

When he first visited Burning Man, it allowed him to reflect and channel his efforts to photography. He went there for adventure, he said, and to be engulfed in a creative environment. He left refreshed and inspired.

Each year that he has returned, he continues to work on his project. His first year was about experimenting with photography. Over 10 years, a clear direction developed for him, he said.

While tens of thousands attend the event, Cheng captures just a few of the participants in his surreal, dreamlike photographs. Grabbing his gear and heading out during a sandstorm when everyone else retreats gives his images a unique feeling. Many of his subjects look lost.

“That was the feeling I wanted in the pictures,” he said. In fact, sometimes Cheng got lost himself as he wandered around the prehistoric lake bed.

But “I like to get lost,” he said.

The experience is different every year, which keeps him coming back.

According to the Burning Man website, the event is "an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance."

“The takeaway is inspiration,” Cheng said.

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN