While there were a few hundred Chrysler Air Raid Sirens installed during the Cold War, only one has been actively used for performance art these days – and it’s from Oakland.
After Jack Schroll rescued this monster siren from Woodminster Amphitheater in 2007, it was first used in a Burning Man Festival project! As part of Crude Awakening, created by Oaklanders Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito, the siren called people to worship at the oil derrick’s altar.
Click on the video and see the whole story unfold. At first, the steel people are doing what comes naturally and actively worshipping their oil god.
Eventually their false god consumes its very last oil, as represented by the fireball. Afterwards, the worshippers are able to return to and respect nature again. (From attendees, we heard this felt like an apocalyptic scene.)
Beyond Crude Awakening, the Oakland Victory Siren has been used in other performances. There was another great Dan Das Mann show on the water – watch this Sausalito Burn Boat video complete with the siren, fire bursts, tesla coils and music. For a front-row seat, here is the siren blasting away on the boat. (Yes, it’s really that loud.)
The siren’s made appearances in the Bay Area each year. It’s been down in Half Moon Bay, at the Pacific Coast Dream Machines show, and wheeled out for inspection at the Alameda County Fair as well. What an interesting Cold War relic and legacy to see up close.
More info: Learn all about the Chrysler Air Raid Sirens and how one devoted Oaklander rescued and refurbished this Oakland blaster – Oakland’s Victory Siren Gets Saved.