Photo: Kris Northern

Catharsis on the Mall: A Vigil for Healing

Civic Responsibility.

Leaving No Trace.

Radical Inclusion.

These are just a few of the 10 Burning Man principals that inspired several individuals in DC to create Catharsis on the Mall, a vigil based on First Amendment rights and the desire for immediate political and social change. The third annual Catharsis will take place on November 10-12, following the art theme of “Nurturing the Heart.”

According to community organizer Sanam Emami, Catharsis on the Mall’s mission is “to create an art-driven event that brings the community and individuals who are committed to healing together for a social purpose.” Joshua Carroll, who is on the board of directors and one of the main organizers of the event, says one of the reasons the Catharsis organizers chose DC is because of its political and cultural movement background.

“The National Mall is a place that has a lot of historical significance in terms of cultural movements and cultural change,” Carroll says. “And in many ways, it’s a heart – a focal point – of the political and cultural movements that are sweeping the country right now and have been in place for a long time.”

Catharsis media spokesperson Natalie White says this year’s theme is about trying to create a safe space for women, and giving women’s rights a platform.

“What we really need is an amendment to the United States Constitution that says women have equal rights,” White says.

The vigil will explore this year’s theme through many avenues including art displays, lectures, musical performances and discussions that will facilitate the recognition and healing of wounds in individuals and society.

Originally, the event organizers had planned to place a 45-foot-tall statue of a nude woman on the National Mall, but the National Park Service rejected the permit. Instead, Catharsis plans to feature 26-foot-tall projected digital portraits, set to cover two sides of a scaffold. According to The Washington Post, the Park Service is in the final stages of issuing a permit for the newly proposed structure.

Carroll says people can expect all kinds of art, a golden dragon that will serve as the center stage for musical performances, and workshops and discussions pertaining to self- and women-empowerment. Musical groups Future Clear Pyramid, Meso Creso, JunXion and Ultimate Fantastic will play as well.

The vigil will then build to the weekend-long event’s most important moment: the Temple Burn. A nondenominational sanctuary, the Temple Burn is a place where people can leave personal notes or artifacts to burn and represents letting go, moving on and carrying the experience of Catharsis with you long after the event has ended.

Catharsis on the Mall begins on Friday, November 10 at 11:11 a.m. and ends Sunday, November 12 at 11:13 a.m., and will occur around the clock. The event is free and open to the public.

Catharsis on the Mall: 2 15th St. NW, DC;

This story was updated on November 6 regarding the National Park Service denying Catharsis a permit for a 45-foot-tall statue on the National Mall. 


Natalia Kolenko

Natalia is a George Mason University alum who studied Journalism and Environmental Science and Politics. She combines her background in news reporting with her love for music, art, and culture to write pieces on a variety of topics. Addicted to travel, X-files, and concerts.