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Park service denies permit for 45-foot-tall nude woman statue on National Mall

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service has rejected a group’s plans to install a 45-foot-tall sculpture of a nude woman on the National Mall.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, the park service said it denied organizers of next month’s “Catharsis on the Mall” event permission to install the statue because it would likely damage the Mall’s turf and soil.

In addition, the statue’s height “introduces a visual element that would dinimish the property’s significant historic features by altering the setting and historic character of the National Mall landscape,” National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said in the statement.

The park service said it approved other elements of the organizers’ plans including the placement of more than 30 temporary structures for the event. The event, which organizers described as a Burning-Man-inspired celebration of artists and activists, runs Nov. 9-12.

In an update its fundraising page, the group organizing the event, said the park service issued temporary approval for the entire project — including the statue — last month but that organizers received a letter Wednesday retracting it.

“We’re stunned by this 11th-hour reversal by the Park Service,” organizers said. The group also said it is evaluating its options, including a legal challenge to the park service’s determination.

Organizers of the event sought permission to install the statue, called R-Evolution, next to the Washington Monument facing the White House as part of the event and to leave it up until February.

Organizers said the statue, which is made of steel rods and tubing covered in a stainless steel mesh, symbolized “a woman standing in her strength and power … expressing her humanity; how she feels when she is safe, when she can just be.”

In its statement on the fundraising page, the group said it had negotiated in recent days with both the park service and the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office, which was reviewing the project to make sure the sculpture did not have an “adverse effect” on the view lines of the Washington Monument and other historic sites.

Before the statue was rejected by the park service, the group said it offered to move the statue out of the view lines of the Washington Monument — as far away as the “upper” mall near the Capitol.


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