Is a 45 Ft. Nude Female Statue Coming to DC?

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Activists who are hoping to start a conversation about violence against women are attempting to bring a 45 foot sculpture of a nude woman standing in a yoga pose from San Francisco to the National Mall in Washington DC where it will face the White House.

The New York Times is reporting on the effort of artist Marco Cochrane and his collaborator and partner, Julia Whitelaw, to bring the sculpture, known as R-Evolution, to the nation’s capital.

The sculpture, which was created for the Burning Man festival in 2015, features a short-haired, nude woman who is standing in the yoga asana known as the mountain pose. This particular pose was chosen by the sculpture’s model, singer and songwriter Deja Solis to denote

Catharsis on the Mall, a gathering in Washington that seeks to bring about social change, wants to repurpose the sculpture and display it in Washington from November 2017 until March 2018. The cost to transport the sculpture across the country is estimated to be around $90,000. The group has started a crowdfunding page which has raised about 30 percent of the total.

According to Whitelaw, the placement of the sculpture has nothing to do with the election of President Donald Trump with plans to bring it to Washington having been underway before his election.

Cochrane’s sculptures “are intended to challenge the viewer to see past the sexual charge that has developed around the female body, to the person: to de-objectify women and inspire people across the world to take action to end violence against women, create space for women’s voices and demand equal rights for all, thus allowing everyone to live fully and thrive,” Cartharsis writes on its website.

“What I see missing in the world is an appreciation and respect for feminine energy and power that results when women are free and safe. It seems obvious to me that feminine energy is being suppressed and this must change,” explains Cochrane. “If we are to find lasting solutions to the problems facing humanity, men and women must be able to work together as equals.”

Funny, but this is the exact same teaching of the Church about the complementarity of men and women and why it is so important to bring about true equality between the sexes – not the kind that pits women against men – but the kind that recognizes women’s fundamental characteristics as being equal to those of men. Both are necessary for the health of one another and the world we live in.

While there is no need to impugn the artist’s motives, whose desire to fight against the sexualization of women stems from a traumatic childhood experience involving a nine- year-old friend who was abducted and raped, we can only question why, if we’re trying to de-objectify women, we do the exact same thing as those who sexualize her – strip off her clothes and put her on display. Why not sculpt a clothed woman standing tall and erect with a child on one hip and the other firmly planted on her hip as if to challenge anyone who doubts her strength? Isn’t this image more indicative of the average woman who is being heartlessly objectified every day in America?

And why must this sculpture stand in a yoga pose which derives from Hindu myths about the Indian god Himavat who is the father of Ganga Devi, the goddess of the Ganges River. It’s not like Hinduism is the most practiced religion on earth. Christianity far outpaces it which raises the question of whether or not this sculpture would have been more inclusive if the woman was merely looking up to heaven.

For that matter, if we want to “start a conversation” about domestic violence and the objectification of women, why not begin by introducing women to authentic femininity and their innate dignity as daughters of God rather than associating them with a “feminine energy” which is a construct of the New Age movement and doesn’t even exist? Far more women can relate to the former message than the latter.

As of today, it remains to be seen if the statue will actually make it to Washington where the group’s proposal is being reviewed by the National Park Service. But organizers are hoping to have it in place by Veteran’s Day weekend, Nov. 10-12.

Sanam Emami, artist and spokesperson for Catharsis, expressed her hope that “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.”

This is a noble aim but it’s a message that should be proclaimed to all women, not just those who can relate to a 45 foot-high nude standing in the mountain pose.

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