“The Mattress Performance” sparked a national dialogue about rape. But the artist’s latest project shows there’s so much more to be said.
Image via Wikimedia
Almost a year ago, Emma Sulkowicz, then a student at Columbia University, started lifting her dorm mattress every day to class. Her actions mystified some, but for Sulkowicz, the concept was simple: every day her rapist remained protected and in school, she would lift. Sulkowicz’s project received national attention and started a national dialogue, and now the artist has come out with yet another powerful project, entitled “This is Not a Rape.”
“This is Not a Rape,” named after Rene Magritte’s “Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe,” comes in the form of a video and encourages viewers to explore life for Sulkowicz and other rape victims, after the crime has taken place. Since producing “The Mattress Performance,” Sulkowicz has been subject to hateful attacks, including a painfully symbolic snub from her very own school president at graduation. The video, which was taken down earlier in the week by a cyber-attack, explores painful and important questions: “Are you searching for proof? Proof of what?” She concludes: “Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me?”
It’s an incredibly powerful, and challenging to watch, eight minutes. Sulkowicz stages a rape scene, then shows herself experiencing its aftermath. Some cruel commentators have encouraged Sulkowicz to take it down, but the artist has refused. “You might be wondering why I’ve made myself this vulnerable,” she writes. “Look—I want to change the world, and that begins with you, seeing yourself.”
(h/t Bitch Media)