Part three of our series about AfrikaBurn X 2016. We met the founders of the Spirit Train, Michael Kennedy and But Corpaci. For those who don’t know, the Spirit Train is for AfrikaBurn what the Robot Heart is for Burning Man in Black Rock City.
Introduce yourself: Who are you and what do you do?
BC: Hi, my name is But Corpaci, I’m originally from Italy. I moved to Cape Town just over five years ago to allow myself to try live a new life.
I grow up in the north/east of Italy in a small city named Udine near the Alps and not far from the border with Slovenia and Austria, a beautiful city that as been my home for my first 30 years. Since I moved to Cape Town my life has turned into what I will more simply describe as the best time of my life.
As main job and passion I own together with my sister Maybe and another friend and partner a small company named SkyLab. SKYLAB offers flexible camera movement solutions for the motion picture and commercial film industries in the air, through the use of an RPAS (commonly known as drone) and on the ground.
But this is only one part of my life, in fact this city in the past 5 years have allowed me to realize so many of my dreams and it keeps surprising me every year with more amazing adventures. One of those has been the realization of The Spirit Train, together with my dear friend Michael Kennedy that is actually the ideator of the concept itself.
I met Michael at Afrikaburn in 2013 and since our very first conversation we become very good loyal friends.
MK: Hello, my name is Michael Kennedy.
I do a few things – big and small, and will probably continue to search for that definitive answer to this question … but my love for music and experience in niche music event production lead to my involvement with The Spirit Train.
How does it all started?
BC: It was a beautiful spring day of 2014 and we were out for a ride on our mountain bikes on one of the beautiful hills surrounding Cape Town, and i remember we were steaming uphill when with he said: “But … I had an idea for next year Afrikaburn… I wanna build a train and name it The Spirit Train”
Immediately I stopped cycling and asked him “Please do tell me more”.
Not long after that day we were spending sleepless nights thinking, talking and designing what is now known as Lobo the Spirit Train, a mutant art car that we have brought to the playa of Afrikaburn with the sole intention of gifting great happy moments to the all burner community.
MK: The concept was born from a particularly bad experience – and a moment in time which processed that into something life-changing. Ideas & drawings were thrown around and we simply had too many unanswered questions … until one day But & I decided it was either full steam ahead, or time to jump train. Thankfully, we decided to fund and build Lobo – whatever the cost.
How many Burns did you attend so far?
Have you been at the Burning Man in Black Rock City?
BC: This past edition has been for me my fifth burn at Afrikaburn.
Every year had a very profound positive impact in my life and it’s probably this the main reason why I consider the week of the burn the most important of the year.
I haven’t yet had the chance to participate at Burning Man but, I’m right now in the process to try find 2 tickets for this years event. There are two reason why I wanna experience the mother of all burns; first I wanna be able to experience Burning Man in the same simple way I discovered Afrikaburn in my first year, by just going there with my little tent some good friends and a lot of positive energy.
The second reason is that I wanna be able to scout the possibility to take The Spirit Train to the playa of Black Rock City for the year 2017 and therefore gift the community of Burning Man some of the African Spirit.
MK: I have been to 6 AfrikaBurn events, but not yet to Burning Man.
The Spirit Train
How big is the Spirit Train crew right now?
BC: The crew of Lobo have grown during those 2 years, some of the original members have left and others instead have join the pack.
This year we were 22 at Afrikaburn and I’m honored to say they are an amazing crew.
We are all coming from different backgrounds and different parts of the world and we become a beautiful family that take care one of each other even now that the dust has settled and we all back to our lives.
What is the message of the Spirit Train? What are the values?
MK: Sharing an original project in a community that is personally transformed through its deeply challenging dynamics. We sought to bring life to a train … and this train has a name – affectionately known as Lobo. The concept of the Spirit Train is born from a natural progression and culmination of circumstance which is deeply rooted in conscious awareness. It might sound like an illusion of literacy but in fact it is a true story. What has since unfolded (certainly on personal levels for our crew) has organically embodied it’s name-sake, and the spirit in which it began – that of selflessness and a desire to make a difference. Therein lies the magic.
What does the Wolf stand for?
MK: A wolf is one of the spirit animals, symbolic of instinct, intuition, intelligence and a pack society, or community. The wolf is also a very misunderstood animal, carrying with itself an element of mystery.
Because of those quality we decided to use the image of a wolf.
Did you feel a change in your life since you started the project?
BC: Definitely Yes, The Spirit Train has had a very profound effect in my life.
Since the first appearance on the playa I believe that I became a better person. I have learned how to better work with others. I learned how to overcome problems with constructive solutions. And probably the biggest change is the fact that I feel more secure and a much stronger person. It help me to feel proud and secure of who I am.
MK: Certainly. I too feel stronger after conquering so many challenges that faced us, and have embodied a deeper sense of social obligation and community. The project has proven that with the right motivation and intention, our minds can move mountains to create beyond our own expectation, and with that a confidence to look toward further ideas, and the credibility to back them up.
What does the Spirit Train mean to you?
BC: It’s probably the best thing ever I done in my life. I now believe there are no limits to what you can achieve if you really believe in it.
MK: On a personal level (and within the context of my ‘professional’ journey) Lobo represents creative freedom and leadership. “Wolves don’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep …”
Found this text: “started a fund for an under-privileged 14year-old kid who had the misfortune of a near-fatal accident with us during the course of the project.” – How did that project worked?
BC: During the course of our project we were involved in a near-fatal accident with an underprivileged child of 14 years old by the name of Kaya. Although not to blame for the accident we couldn’t help but feel for the child’s inadequate living conditions, lack of medical care and love from his family – who are at this moment living underneath a bridge in Salt River – Cape Town. Through the Spirit Train project we have start a fund for him to pay for his schooling and prepare him for when he graduates. We hope to show him the love he has not felt from his family and give him the opportunity of a better life through our original encounter that terrible day.
Also read about “interactive modifications within the 6D design (rooftop platform above the Dj booth / increased & improved soundrig / LED circulatory system complete & more)” – How does THAT look like?
BC: The Spirit Train is an ongoing project that will live and accompagne us in the years to come.
We aiming to build and improve it every year.
For now I can tell you that we will have a better and extended sound system and the LED circulatory system will be extended to the all train. We also aiming to create more interactive parts on the train to allow the burners to explore more, to be curious and why not … maybe even learn one thing or two.
AfrikaBurn X: How was the experience in conjunction with the train station?
BC: The Collaboration with the crew of Hauptbahnhof has been to say the minimum just amazing!
They not only have embraced our vision of a station where Lobo could park at night and open it’s valves to the max!
They have build a solid 2 stories station in full Victorian style;
A real Opera of engineering and art.
Personally I can’t wait to see what we will do together at AfrikaBurn 2017.
What is the future of the Spirit Train?
BC: I wish I knew what the future has in store for Lobo and his Pack…
For now all I can say is that we will be back at Afrikaburn 2017. And If the Spirit follows us we will be howling at the moon from the playa of Black Rock City too.
MK: Progression and a catalyst for change – be it big or small.
Thank you Michael and But for the interview and these lovely insights about The Spirit Train.
People of Black Rock City, if you read this, share it or help them to get on the Playa with their wonderful project! Get all the information about the project here.