- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007

COPENHAGEN — A Danish artist known for his provocative and spectacular projects said Monday he plans to climb France’s Mont Blanc to paint its summit red and establish an independent state.

Marco Evaristti, originally from Chile, says he will color the peak of Mont Blanc — the highest mountain in Western Europe — in biodegradable paint and establish a sovereign “Pink State” on the summit in an attempt to raise awareness for environmental issues.

Mr. Evaristti’s guide, Michel Bordet, says the artist already has painted a part of the mountain at the Col des Flambeaux passage, at 11,150 feet in the Vallee Blanche, as a “small taste of what is to come.”

The artist refuses to reveal the exact date for his project so as “not to give police any help.”

“My aim is to transform this mythical mountain of Mont Blanc into a ‘Mountain Red’ and establish a sovereign state, the ‘Pink State,’ ” Mr. Evaristti says.

Snowcapped Mont Blanc rises to 15,774 feet in the French Alps.

According to the 43-year-old artist, the purpose of his Mont Blanc project is to raise questions such as: “Who owns nature? Who owns the water in the lakes, the snow on the ground, the flowers in the fields and the trees in the rain forests?”

Mr. Evaristti says he has the “right” to “create a nonviolent state of pluralism and tolerance” on the mountain, which “doesn’t belong to France alone.”

“As France has taken the right to conduct nuclear testing in French Polynesia, thousands of kilometers away, it would be a clear case of double standards if they now prevented me from occupying a small piece of land for peaceful purposes,” he says.

The project, which he says “will not pollute the environment in any way,” is the second in a trilogy of projects.

The stunt was not expected to be well-received by the mayor of Chamonix, Michel Charlet, who in December last year called the project “stupid and illegal.”

“He can’t say he is defending the environment and degrading a protected site at the same time,” Mr. Charlet said, adding that he would send police to the mountain.

In 2004, Mr. Evaristti “painted” an iceberg off Greenland red in what he called an artistic protest over nuclear waste dumped by the United States near its Thule military base in the north of the Danish island territory.

The artist said earlier he had put together a 15-strong team to lug about 320 gallons of paint mixed with water up one of Mont Blanc’s peaks, where the liquid will be poured out to create a red mark measuring 27,000 square feet.

The artist says he will foot the project’s $66,000 bill himself.

Often in headlines for his provocative projects, Mr. Evaristti caused an outcry in 2000 with an exhibit in Denmark’s Trapholt modern art museum that featured goldfish swimming in blenders. Mr. Evaristti’s exhibit gave visitors the choice of switching on the appliances.

“I wanted people to confront their consciences, their inner judgment, their instincts, to press the button of death or not,” the artist says at the time.

A Danish animal rights group took him to court over the exhibit. Mr. Evaristti was acquitted.

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