After the National Park Service rejected their permit application for a 47-foot-tall statue of a naked woman on the National Mall, organizers of the 3rd annual Catharsis on the Mall event improvised.
In the place of the so-called “R-Evolution” statue, they erected scaffolding with an image of a nude woman called “Our Evolution.” The image is half as tall, reaching 26-feet into the air.
Organizers said she represents the female organizers of this event, with their actual nude bodies morphed into one virtual image. That's important, they said, because this year's theme is female empowerment.
Catharsis on the Mall is similar to a Burning Man festival. Organizers call it a “vigil for healing.”
It's part music festival, part dance party, part protest and part conference for progressive activists and artists.
National Mall visitors leaving the Washington Monument or World War II Memorial this Veterans Day weekend might be baffled by this sight.
“I think this is a place of honor and respect and I think it's inappropriate,” said one tourist.
Other passing tourists said the event looked intriguing and even suggested they might return to experience it.
The event attracts colorful characters, artists, activists and spectators. But unlike Burning Man, in the Nevada desert, daytime highs in D.C. have dropped to the low 40s.
The weekend culminates with a bonfire of sorts. Anyone can write messages, wishes or regrets in a wooden temple before it's set ablaze.
But this year's big feature is missing. Organizers said they got permission from the Park Service in September to bring the R-Evolution statue. Then late last month, that decision was reversed.
The Park Service said that permission was given in error. Explaining its reversal, the agency said the sculpture is too tall, that it would obstruct views of the Washington Monument and that it might damage the turf.
Organizer Natalie White said, “Taking this permit away from us is infringing upon our First Amendment rights.”
White said organizers are still pursuing other options and considering legal action to bring the statue to Washington. And after the festival wraps up this weekend, they're promising a daily vigil for female empowerment and an equal rights amendment outside the White House, now through February.