Together We Stand; Marco Cochrane is Harnessing the Feminine Essence to Facilitate Global Change

photo by Greg Delaune (greg.delaune@uixglobal)

Truth is Beauty at the 2014 Burning Man Festival – photo by Greg Delaune

“We are sharing a bold idea that the world needs. It is a dream that many share and we believe we are now in the position to make it a reality.” – Marco Cochrane

Marco Cochrane’s sculptures Bliss Dance (40’ tall) and Truth is Beauty (57’ tall) are awe inspiring in their scale and execution. The unique combination of a programable LED array illuminating a stainless steel mesh, supported by a sophisticated interior ball and rod skeletal structural system, make these monuments to the human form a technological achievement in their own right. But, for Marco, their core meaning and power actually lies well beyond the compelling magnitude, light effects, and technological prowess of the work. With his forthcoming piece, R-Evolution (to be finished in 2015), Marco will complete a three act composition underscoring his dedication to a campaign for women’s empowerment at a global scale. At a recent Innovate Berkeley speaking engagement, in an intimate dinner setting, Marco talked candidly about his background and aspirations for how humanity needs to better align itself with feminine energies to avoid global collapse of the environment, financial systems, and human society as a whole.

“This is where it all started!”, commented Marco, referring to the tumultuous political and cultural shifts that were occurring during his upbringing in Berkeley in the late 60s and early 70s. As a pre-teen, Marco’s childhood naiveté about gender issues and sexual predation was shattered by the rape of a close neighborhood friend. In the horrific aftermath of this event, he developed a unique sensitivity to the ongoing global struggle against oppression and inequality that women in practically every nation face. Marco was born in 1963 in Venice, Italy, where his American parents were living as expatriate artists, but it was not until he was an adult that Marco’s creativity finally found its outlet through a dare, whereby he discovered his unique ability to express the core energy and essence of his human subjects through sculpture of the figurative form. Since then, Marco has honed his craft, expanding the scale and technical reach of his work, in part through his exposure to and inspiration from the Burning Man community, to spread his message of women’s empowerment to an ever-expanding following of awe-inspired admirers.

As the emotion rises in Marco’s discussion of his work, he is not talking about the cathartic satisfaction of manually interpreting the human form, nor the technical genius of the tapered ball joint structural system, nor the care with which he shapes the steel, nor the renaissance-based mathematical tools he uses for the scaling the forms, nor even the tantalizing use of data, light, and computer systems to execute the dazzling effects that illuminate the metallic skin of his creations. He is talking about injustice, the squandering of natural resources, dominance over the weak, and the fact that as a species time is running out for us to solve the problems that threaten our very existence on this planet. All of this, he relates back to the core belief that each of us is empowered with the means to accelerate a global shift, already underway, towards feminine tendencies that are manifest in movements towards conservation, equity, and collective resource sharing.

Bliss Dance at her current home on Treasure Island, San Francisco

Bliss Dance at her current home on Treasure Island, San Francisco

Marco’s intent is not to cast men negatively, but his frank discussion of masculine tendencies towards killing, domination, and hair-triggered violence as a response to real and perceived threats and shows of disrespect can be jarring. Even if some of his rhetoric sounds exaggerated at times, the core truth of his comments are born out by the reality of gender based imbalances in political and social power structures around the world, the ubiquitous threat of sexual assault and violence with which women live around the world (1 in 3 women will be assaulted in their lifetime), and the on-going tendency of institutions (like universities, corporations, and local government) to cover up or downplay sexual assault statistics to avoid bad press. While men certainly are not immune to this same violence, predation, and injustice, Marco argues that the male tendency of swift and violent response to perceived threats to their person, their loved ones, or their rights, is a core difference in how masculine power is manifest in the world.

Marco’s goal is as simple as it is ambitious. He wants to use the location and history of Treasure Island (created for the 1939 World Fair), in the middle of San Francisco Bay, as a focal point for prioritizing and solving the core global problems that we face as a species. To do this, he proposes to harness the core principals of sharing and transparency that underlie the Burning Man community, the financial might and industrial sophistication that is driving innovation in Silicon Valley, and the tremendous creative and technical human resources that are concentrated in the Bay Area. Together, these will ignite a critical mass of problem solving power that will inevitably attract additional talent and resources to the island from around the globe. This ‘Global Innovation Laboratory’ project is already underway, albeit in an exploratory phase. The ultimate goal is to present the findings and problem solutions as part of a 100 year anniversary celebration of the island in 2039, showcasing the power of the human potential when it is harnessed for the collective good of mankind.

For more information about Marco’s art, visit his website at:
For more information about the ‘Global Innovation Laboratory’ project on Treasure Island, contact:

Learn more about Greg Delaune

  1. Joy Brooke Fairfield on

    Hmmm…. let’s see here…highly-objectified images of naked, commercially-attractive women with highly normative bodies as a way to combat rape. I’m skeptical. As a woman, I do not feel empowered by this artwork. Men have been looking at images of naked ladies for a long long time, and war has continued to be waged.

    Also, “the financial might and industrial sophistication that is driving innovation in Silicon Valley” has been consistently sexist, misogynist and patriarchal (see below for examples), so any appeal to tech giants to solve problems in gendered violence is ignorant and insulting.

    Are any actual women involved in Marco’s revolution of “the feminine essence”?

    • Hello Joy, Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes there are many women involved in Marco’s work, starting with his partner and attorney and including women welders who work on his projects, and a powerful mix of women who are involved in the planning and execution of the Burning Man festival; which spearheads its own initiatives for women’s empowerment and safety on and off the Playa. I am not the expert on all of these initiatives, but I am happy to help you to find more info and will be working with Marco and his team to make sure that as we move forward there is a ‘new dialogue’ about how to better address the valid concerns that you raise about who should be involved and whether we are really moving the needle. We would welcome your input! Greg

  2. Joy Brooke Fairfield on

    Thanks for your response. I guess my input would be to immediately partner with one or more grassroots organizing initiatives in the area advocating for the health and well-being of women, particularly trans and ciswomen of color, placing their priorities in the forefront of your work. Those with local, on the ground practice and knowledge from histories of resistance and creative resiliance have the most valuable perspective towards which those with access to money and cultural capital can lend their aid. Otherwise you’d have here the gender equivalent of the Kony 2012 debacle in context of gender liberation: white savior complex in which the male hero attempts to liberate the “feminine”. The reduction of the injustices of masculinist violence (an ideo-logical structure not a biological one) is an urgent need and I appreciate Marco’s dedication to the cause. I hope the team working on this project attends to the actual voices of real-life women (particularly those experiencing the disciplinary extremes of our society, such as the poor and imprisoned) in their labor to create new visions of a more just society.

    I also recommend you look into the history of the World’s Fairs. These cultural events have been extending imperialist and racist practices of objectification for centuries and it’s important, should we choose to inhabit their spaces for current projects, that we not recreate rituals of access and exclusion. Burning Man, which serves as Marco’s inspiration for alternative cultures, has recently become prohibitively expensive, excluding the poor from its reach. Even without the price hikes, many people have not felt enthusiastic about or interested in the kind of dionysian culture often encountered at the burn. The recent Orientalist themes featuring the silk road and the micronesian cargo cults have been alienating to some, perhaps particularly people with ties to indigenous communities.

    Finally, I wonder if all of Marco’s women need to have the kind of body that his prior works have taken. Could his forms be less gender-normative, less thin, less able bodied? I’d love to see, for example, a gorgeously twisted older woman with different kinds of curves.

    I appreciate this conversation. As a burner and an artist and a radical -queer-change-seeker myself, I think forums for this kind of conversation are very important.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response Joy! There is a lot to chew on there. I will take note of your comments as we move forward. We are in the very early stages of the TI project, but you are giving us some clear challenges to confront as we build the core DNA that will hopefully guide the project in a direction that does honor to all involved. I think that you understand this, but to clarify, Marco’s work/inspiration and the goals of the TI project are not one in the same. The activities of the Global Innovation Laboratory will focus on solving the key technical problems that we are facing as a species, and will be worked on by the top global talent/minds of our age. The mobilization of that cohort is by its nature, exclusionary. On the other hand, the mix of minds that works on these issues should be as diverse as we are as a species, and the universal ‘inclusion’ part will come about through the 100% transparency for which we will strive; including completely open information about funding and decision making, as well as open access to media that will cover the activities in real time. There will be tremendous challenges to address in insuring this transparency, but it is a core tenant of the idea. In this respect, the idea is to avoid all of the historical imbalances and distortions that you reference (as part of World Fairs and Imperialist agendas), in favor of a core ethos that is guided by the more feminine aspects of our collective consciousness; with the belief that this approach will lead to a fundamentally more sustainable and respectful way of approaching how we treat the earth, her limited resources, and each other. While we expect to tap into a tremendous vein of collective global support, there is no doubt that many people from all quarters will disagree with specifics of how we strive to achieve our goals, but hopefully the dialogue will remain open and productive as part of a ‘living’ process that evolves and improves over time.

  3. Joy Brooke Fairfield on

    Thanks for your response. My brief research into who the “Global Innovation Laboratory” lead me to what look like several commercial ventures. I wish you all luck on your project and vehemently urge you to shift your rhetoric about “the feminine essence” and get more women on your steering committee immediately, it feels embarrassing to have to even say this, but who is in the room matters. Whose voices are being listened to matters. Thank you.

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