Erected at the 2007 Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, Big Rig Jig is a sculpture from the young Brooklyn-based artist Mike Ross. Constructed of two repurposed 18-wheeler tanker trucks, Big Rig Jig “utilized two decommissioned trucks, referencing a global oil industry at the nexus of our world’s political, social and environmental systems,” according to the sculpture’s official website, which is no longer active. “By repurposing these symbolically rich objects, the artist conveys his admiration for and anxiety over humanity’s power.”
The entire sculpture was anchored to a giant metal base with custom-built screws and other support gear. It had to be stable - more stable than most sculpture - because the inside of the curved tubes were filled with steel-truss work that allowed Burning Man participants to climb around inside. If they reached the top of the second truck, any climbers would be about four stories high.
Mike Ross received so much attention and adoration for his sculpture that he was hired by Sound Transit, an agency that seeks to reach people with groundbreaking public art. “Ross was inspired to make the truck sculpture by the traffic in his neighborhood, where 18-wheelers make him nervous about his jaywalking habit,” a Seattle newspaper reported when writing on Ross’ hire at Sound Transit. “Also, Ross said, he and his girlfriend have hitchhiked across the country with truck drivers.”
“It’s just cool to see trucks in the air,” Ross told the reporter. “I saw smiles on people’s faces; that was great. That’s a big part of what I’m trying to do. Let people walk away feeling they’re seeing something pleasurable, in some way.”