Emma Sulkowicz: “Mattress Performance”

Emma Sulkowicz, a University student from Columbia, has begun a project called “Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight”. Sulkowicz accused a fellow student of rape on the college campus and after the University’s failure to expel the ‘rapist’, she protested by carrying a mattress on her back. Sulkowicz made a set of rules for herself that included being unable to ask for help to carry the mattress unless offered. She also dragged the mattress on stage when graduating, resulting in the Columbian Presidents refusal to shake her hand.

This project has received a huge amount of media attention for its “succinct and powerful”(Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine) and “pure radical vulnerability”.

Many have made a conscious effort to help Sulkowicz with her mattress to protest the sexual violence within schools and “to end gender-based violence and rape culture at our schools”.

There is some debate about whether the rape actually happened as he was not found guilty by the university or the police. However, either way, this project draws attention to rape and shows that it is not ok to be ignored by society when you speak out about these things. No matter whether the original rape actually happened, Sulkowitz is helping other females come out about their experiences, proving that no matter what, rape is not ok.


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