Come November, if all goes well for artist Marco Cochrane, his 45-foot-tall sculpture of a nude woman will stand on the grounds of the National Mall. “R-Evolution” depicts a slender figure in Tadasana, or yoga’s Mountain Pose, and Cochrane wants her to face the White House as, he claims, a symbol of female empowerment and fearlessness. Fitted with LED lights, her steel body will glow an eerie blue at night.
Since last September, the artist has been working to have the so-titled “R-Evolution” installed as the centerpiece of Catharsis on the Mall, an annual festival that aims to transform the National Mall into a space for healing and nurturing through workshops, vigils, dancing, and more. It’s essentially the Burning Man of the District — which makes Cochrane’s sculpture particularly fitting: it was originally built for the desert festival as part of his three-work series The Bliss Project.
Created to encourage female empowerment and self-acceptance, the monumental statues are modeled on artist Dejas Solis and each take on a different pose. Their nudity is intended to challenge people to see past women’s bodies as sexualized; at the heart of Cochrane’s project is the question, “What would the world be like if women were safe?”
Asked if he saw installing a larger-than-life statue of a nude woman as a feminist gesture, Cochrane told Hyperallergic, “Yes, I consider myself a feminist. The sculptures I have been doing for the past 25 years, including ‘R-Evolution’ and the other sculptures of The Bliss Project are intended to call attention to the need for ending violence against women and to make room for women’s voices. We really need to look at how the objectification of women, the focus on the physical form, this de-humanization is hurting us all.”
The message of women’s safety may seem lost on some when confronted with a giant sculpture of an idealized female figure baring it all. Indeed, many people didn’t appreciate “Truth is Beauty,” Cochrane’s dancing version of “R-Evolution,” when it was installed in San Leandro in 2015. Unfortunately for residents who found it inappropriate and “tacky,” it remains as a permanent installation.
“R-Evolution” would remain up for four months if Cochrane secures funding as well as the right permits for it to remain on the Mall. His team is currently raising $90,000 on Indiegogo to transport it from his California studio to Washington, DC and have so far received over $32,000. (The entire cost of its migration is about $150,000.) Permit negotiations with the National Park Service are also ongoing; a spokesman told The Washington Post that it’s “plausible” that the department would approve the project. If it does, “R-Evolution” will be tallest temporary structure ever placed on Mall, according to Cochrane’s team.
“As a man, I really believe that men can’t solve the problems we are facing: war, economic inequality, climate change,” Cochrane told Hyperallergic. “We need to work together with women as equals and for this to happen, they need to be safe, and we, men in particular, need to take active responsibility to make this happen.”
One man the artist hopes to engage with in particular is President Trump. Plans for the sculpture’s installation preceded his inauguration, but now that a misogynist heads the Oval Office, Cochrane and his team hopes that their nude statue will inspire him to, “take responsibility for the effect of his words and actions,” as creative partner Julia Whitelaw said. It’s an optimistic if not idealistic thought; Trump will likely appreciate the view, albeit for very different reasons.