CATHARSISONTHEMALL.COM
If organizers receive approval, this 45-foot tall statue of a naked woman will be coming to the District.

A 45-foot-tall sculpture of a nude woman may become a regular sight at the National Mall beginning in November.

If approved by the National Park Service, the giant figure, known as R-Evolution, would be moved from the artist’s space in San Francisco to Washington, D.C., and installed beside the Washington Monument as part of this year’s Catharsis on the Mall vigil. Since 2015, this annual gathering has featured art exhibits, lectures, discussions, live music and workshops related to social justice.

The sculpture is intended to raise awareness of how women are treated in society and the workplace. The female figure stands with her hands at her sides, her feet spread and her chin up. R-Evolution is part of artist Marco Cochrane’s series of three sculptures of nude women, titled “The Bliss Project,” which has been featured at the Burning Man festival in Nevada.

However, the organizers have struggled to secure a permit authorizing the statue’s installation. Negotiations with the NPS are still in progress, according to Robert Haferd, Catharsis on the Mall board member and attorney, in an undated news release.

Organizers have also faced logistical and financial challenges in attempting to move R-Evolution across the country. Moving, installing and insuring the sculpture will cost about $150,000 dollars, and though organizers have managed to cover some of the expenses through private donations, they are still trying to raise $90,000 dollars through public donations.

The NPS approves art exhibitions that are “consistent with the mission” of the national park where they are located, according to the service’s website.

Cochrane said the figure’s position reflects a strong, resolute response to assaults on women’s rights.

“The position that the sculpture is in I think is really perfect as a response to what I experience as a pretty aggressive assault on women’s rights and things that have to do with women,” Cochrane said. “Instead of fighting, she’s just standing there, completely solid. And I think that says a lot.”

Through the figures, Cochrane intends to portray strong, confident women.  According to Julia Whitelaw, Cochrane’s assistant, the artist wants the viewer to experience an emotional connection with the figure.

Titled “Nurturing the Heart,” this year’s Catharsis on the Mall organizers aim to soothe political tensions that emerged in recent years, particularly since the 2016 presidential election, regarding gender equality, LGBTQ and civil rights, among a range of other social issues. Though Catharsis on the Mall will last from Nov. 10 to 13, the organizers hope for R-Evolution to remain standing until March to encourage ongoing reflection on the rights and liberties of women.

Sanam Emami, organizer and spokeswoman for Catharsis on the Mall, said he hoped R-Evolution would promote reflection and dialogue among people from different physical and cultural backgrounds and characteristics.

“I hope by having R-Evolution on the National Mall for four months, all of our communities are inspired to cultivate art, healing and critical social dialogue among women, and people, of all bodies, ages, races, religions, gender, abilities and sexual orientations,” Emami said in a news release.

Cochrane and Whitelaw both expect R-Evolution’s installation on the nation’s capital to be complicated to achieve, particularly given President Donald Trump’s previous comments on women and the current political climate. During the 2016 election, a 2005 tape emerged of Trump bragging in vulgar terms about kissing and groping women, saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

“This installation is probably going to be a little different because it’s on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and given the current president and some of the things he said about women, I think it’s going to probably be more politically charged,” Whitelaw said.

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