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National Park Service Protects The Turf, Says No Naked Woman Statue on the Mall

by Countable | 10.27.17

What’s the story?

The MeToo movement may have temporarily taken over popular media, but a 45-foot tall naked woman standing on the National Mall, 24-hours a day for four months, with witnesses and allies? Right between the White House and the Washington Monument? That was too much symbolic liberation to fit within the rules of the National Park Service.

Why does it matter?

An annual D.C. Burning Man-type festival, "Catharsis on the Mall", was planning to put a 45-foot statue of a naked woman on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the White House. The sculpture is entitled “R-Evolution”.

The National Park Service denied the permit for the statue installation on Wednesday. Despite a previous height variance issued to the project (with the statue’s base it would have been two feet over the maximum height of 45 feet allowed on the Mall), the permit was denied based on the height requirement.

The Washington Post reports that Rick Obernesser, acting regional director of the Park Service, told the group that the variance never should have been allowed in the first place. Also, that the statue would potentially damage the turf during the lengthy installation, which was 86 days longer than the usual 5 day maximum permitted.

Park Service representatives also commented to the Post that there were concerns the statue would detract from the view of the Washington Monument. The Washington Monument is 555 feet tall. No building within the city limits is allowed to be taller. Or, it seems, to be less than 10 percent as tall.

Thirty smaller temporary art installations were approved for the festival, which will proceed November 10-12 on the proposed site.

Organizers had raised over $100,000 to transport and raise the statue on the proposed site, as well as provide a 24-hour vigil at its base for the duration of the proposed four month installation. Marco Cochrane, a sculptor associated with the artist collective that constructed the statue, which was originally installed at the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City in 2015 said he didn’t realize the full significance of the proposed installation on the Mall until he actually stood on the site:

"This is where the statements of what America is about are made.”

For now, a four story naked woman standing, open-handed and unashamed, between two of the most powerful symbols of American democracy is not a statement about America that the Park Service is willing to permit.

Want to hear what organizers were planning for yourself? Here’s a promotional video for the project.

What do you think?

Would this installation have been a timely call for equal rights for women or for open-heartedness in our national dialogue? Or do you think a 45-foot naked woman statue is inappropriate on the National Mall? Is the Park Service’s denial part of a national denial of women’s humanity or simply a logistical concern about visuals, grass and existing regulations? Is this a denial of free speech rights, or is the statue just too big?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Marilyn Rutten via Twitter )

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(68)
  • Coloradovoo
    10/27/2017
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    Seriously? Is this for real? What idiots proposed this and for what purpose? It’s degrading, embarrassing and just plain stupid!

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  • Kimberly
    10/27/2017
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    Please no. As a woman, and a victim of sexual harassment, no. Don't do this. Also, the "me too" thing is a trend. Discuss it openly without a stupid hashtag on everything.

    Like (18)
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  • burrkitty
    10/28/2017
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    I like it. It's a beautiful sculpture. I'm not worried about the lawn. Grass regrows fast. The argument is clearly political on both sides, but if you have to choose between representation and oppression, choose representation. Women's rights are worth more than a couple hundred, or even a couple hundred thousand square feet of grass.

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  • RadicalModerate
    10/28/2017
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    I love this idea. Because it makes people uncomfortable. And it gets us talking about uncomfortable things. Like the Donald going up and grabbing a pussy. He can do that. Right? They like it, cause he's famous right?

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  • R. ben
    10/28/2017
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    This is stupid.

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  • Deirdre
    10/28/2017
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    There are plenty of naked women statues in museums. I really don’t see the problem with this.

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  • Rose
    10/28/2017
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    I see no value in this statue as a representation of woman's rights or power. What's the point, just don't get it. Not so much offensive as just plain dumb!

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  • Jim
    10/28/2017
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    Explain to me exactly how a 45-foot tall naked woman statue furthers equal rights for women. It isn't like there is a 45-foot tall statue of a naked man there (or anywhere DC) that needs t be countered.

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  • Monica
    10/27/2017
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    I guess this statue would excite too many predators in Congress,the Senate and the WhiteHouse

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  • Ken
    10/28/2017
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    Individual subjective reaction to the art’s subject is irrelevant. Not permitting the installation due to the statue’s height in combination with its base is splitting hairs, and smells like an excuse. Freedom of expression should protect this one as it has for...Richard Spencer’s rhetoric for instance. The artist is neither responsible for this country’s preoccupation with phallic symbols, their prevalence in our culture, nor it’s proclivity to see them enjoy unobstructed prominence for miles in every direction. Personally I think the mall could do with some permanent female balance, not to mention an even larger obelisk made out of black granite to keep things in perspective, but it’s actually not the subject matter that I’m concerned with here, it’s the freedom to express it that should be protected... for all. There WILL be those that celebrate it and unquestionably should be able to. There will also be those who find it offensive and, of course, have both the right to BE offended if they choose, as well as the right to build a bridge and get over it.

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  • Alyssa
    10/28/2017
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    I think this would be incredible. This statue would not be degrading or embarrassing but empowering. The whole point of our resistance is to change expectations. You do that by making people uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is what makes us think. We must stop looking at the female body as a sexualized object, and more as a symbol for half of the world’s population.

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  • Amber leeg
    10/27/2017
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    I swear it’s almost like the American people are getting dumber and dumber as they “evolve”. Maybe we’ll all be monkeys again someday. Well, if you believe in all that stuff anyway. If not, (and before anyone decides to get ugly, I do happen to be a religious person) then we should probably start designing another ark so we don’t get swept away when God decides its time to clean the slate and start over. 🙄

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  • Kirsten
    10/28/2017
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    I don't know, the fact that so many people seem to be opposed to the display of a naked woman makes me think that maybe everyone need to be confronted with one in a public space. Michaelangelo's David is an enormous sculpture of a naked man & people don't seem to object to his presence. Naked women are not shameful, they're just human. #my2cents

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  • Wilfredo
    10/28/2017
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    No - simple. Vegas styles events are held in Vegas for a reason: I was cool with the naked lady until I read it was in DC. Go somewhere else - I’ve never even heard of the band trying to do this stunt so all the more reason to say No! - & I’m a DJ so

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  • Joss
    10/28/2017
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    It’s a beautiful piece, but Americans don’t usually support nudity, and also seem pretty uncomfortable with feminist concepts. I’m glad the Italians didn’t think this way about the statue of David, and if you’ve seen it, you know it’s already pretty in your face, by the standards of that time.

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  • Chuck
    10/28/2017
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    If the Washington Monument isn’t phallic enough, to have a naked woman standing in front of it with palms open is beyond appalling, especially now that women so actively rejecting sexual discrimination. What is this artist thinking???

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  • Shanna
    10/28/2017
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    These comments have just proven to me that Americans are more afraid of nudity and feminism than war.

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  • Paul
    10/28/2017
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    The idea means well but the execution seems rather silly and wasteful. I love naked women at least as much as the next man, and it's not about the nudity (by definition, nude isn't lewd). It also should not be about the base being two feet too big or the installation being in place for too long. The project just seems overblown and improbable, and would most likely redirect the conversation to the installation rather than to women's rights and issues. Save the money, concentrate on the issue - that's the real work that needs to be done.

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  • Tankgirl51
    10/28/2017
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    It’s Art !!!!!

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  • C
    10/28/2017
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    For pity sake people, there are classical statues of naked women and men all over the world including major US state capitals and , yes, DC. Worry more about who can get a gun and less about false modesty. For an image of a woman to be degrading it doesn’t have to be nude. Real harm is being done to women by the policies of this administration,

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