Danish Artist Drapes Mont Blanc in Red

The Associated Press
Friday, June 8, 2007; 11:02 PM

GRENOBLE, France -- A Danish artist who made headlines by painting an iceberg red trained his sights on Mont Blanc on Friday, draping part of the Alpine peak's summit in scarlet fabric to call attention to environmental degradation.

Marco Evaristti and some 15 assistants unfurled eight swathes of plastic-covered fabric to form a circle on the 15,771-foot peak. They topped the creation with a 20-foot flagpole and banner reading "Pink State."

Evaristti said he hoped the display would draw public attention to the effect of pollution on the Europe's most famous mountain. He was particularly critical of pollution caused by day-trekkers and casual climbers who leave behind litter.

"Who does nature belong to?" asked Evaristti, contacted by phone.

Initially, Evaristti had reportedly planned to turn Mont Blanc _ which means "white mount" in French _ red by painting the summit with biodegradable dye made largely from crushed raspberries.

But local authorities nixed the plan.

Police briefly detained Evaristti on Wednesday as he tried out the paint on a pass halfway up the mountain. He faces charges of "mutilating a protected natural site."

Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak, was declared a protected site in 1993.

Evaristti, who was born in Chile, drew widespread attention in 2000 when he displayed 10 working blenders filled with goldfish at a Danish gallery. The display invited visitors to turn on the blenders if they wanted to, and someone did, grinding up two fish. In 2003, the director of the Trapholt Art Museum was acquitted of animal cruelty charges after a judge ruled the fish died instantly.

In 2004, Evaristti used 780 gallons of paint diluted with sea water, three fire hoses, two icebreakers and a 20-man crew to spray an iceberg off western Greenland.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects spelling of Grenoble in dateline)

© 2007 The Associated Press