Allan Gelbard: You Say You Want a R-Evolution

Allan Gelbard: You Say You Want a R-Evolution

Those of you who know me, and even some who don’t, know that I am deeply involved in the Burning Man community. I am a “Burner.”

For the past 18 years, I have made my annual pilgrimage to the Black Rock desert, northeast of Reno to be inspired by my fellow Burners, the sense of radically inclusive community and the penultimate example of the First Amendment at play — radical self-expression.

One of the innumerable inspiring components of Burning Man is the large scale interactive art that appears in the middle of nowhere. Then, as if by magic, it disappears without a trace. These works leave their mark, not on the desert, but on those fortunate enough to see — and be inspired — by them. As such, their power extends beyond Burning Man itself.

Marco Cochrane is a talented San Francisco sculptor who creates giant works of art. His three-part series, the Bliss Project, consisted of three monumental wireframe nude statues of singer/songwriter/model Deja Solis. 

Cochrane and Solis conceived the Bliss Project 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 ....”

These three amazing pieces were built for installation at Burning Man.

The first sculpture, Bliss Dance, stood 40 feet tall and appeared at Burning Man in 2010. 

The second, Truth is Beauty, stood 55 feet tall and appeared in 2013.

The third, R-Evolution, at 45 feet tall, appeared in 2015.

I was fortunate to see — and be inspired by — all three. They were truly breathtaking and are three of my all-time favorite Burning Man art installations.

Individually and collectively, they conveyed female power and the sense of what is possible when women are truly safe to express themselves. Radical self-expression is, after all, one of the “Ten Principles of Burning Man.”

Catharsis on the Mall is an annual event — produced by Burners — which they describe as “an annual public vigil dedicated to building community by creating space for healing and transformation.” 

This year’s theme is “Nurturing the Heart.” The event, which this year runs from Nov. 10-12, will feature community art, lectures, workshops, music and a ceremonial burn. Admission is free.

At the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference in March, the Catharsis team, in conjunction with the Bliss Project, announced their intention to install R-Evolution on the National Mall — in front of the Washington Monument — facing the White House.

I was inspired by the prospect, and the powerful image it would convey. I pledged my time and support on the spot.

Through the tireless work of the Catharsis and Bliss Project teams, the Department of the Interior has preliminarily approved R-Evolution for a four-month installation beginning in November. 

The total cost to facilitate the installation is substantial. Transporting the statue from California to Washington, D.C., installing it, and then disassembling and transporting it back to California will cost approximately $150,000.

While the project has already received some substantial financial contributions from the Burning Man Project and several other generous individuals and entities, it is not enough.

To make up the difference, they are running a Generosity/Indigogo funding campaign through which individual contributions can be made.

The symbolism of this project — a 45-foot tall, fully empowered woman facing the White House — is one we should all understand and support.

Please donate if you can and alert your friends and fans about this outstanding endeavor through your social media outlets (Twitter and Instagram). Please help us bring R-Evolution to the National Mall. Contributions may be made here.  

For more information about R-Evolution and The Bliss Project, click here.  

A video of Cochrane discussing R-Evolution and the Bliss Project is available here.

For more information about Catharsis on the Mall, click here.

Industry attorney Allan Gelbard is an active First Amendment, intellectual property and entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. Gelbard has been featured in Wired Magazine, XBIZ, California Lawyer, Los Angeles Daily Journal, National Law Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He can be reached at or (818)386-9200.

Pictured: R-Evolution at Burning Man last month