Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University graduate who made national headlines after hauling a mattress around campus for a year to protest the school’s handling of her alleged rape, is back in the news. “Mattress girl,” as she has come to be known, has released a sex tape recreating the “crime.”
Titled “Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol” (‘This Is Not A Rape’), the video shows two people, one of whom appears to be Sulkowicz, entering a dorm room and proceeding to have sex from four different camera angles. Timestamps in the upper corner of each camera are used to make the video appear dated to August 27, 2012, the date Sulkowicz claims she was raped by fellow student Paul Nungesser, who has since sued the university. Over the course of the video, Sulkowicz’s partner becomes violent and begins to hit her, essentially recreating the experience Sulkowicz claims she underwent at the hands of Nungesser.
The video’s release comes just two weeks after Sulkowicz graduated from Columbia, drawing renewed attention after she completed her project by carrying her mattress on-stage despite the protests of Columbia administrators.
While the video is more or less pornographic in nature, Sulkowicz claims that it is a work of performance art similar to her mattress-carrying effort. The website the video is on includes several paragraphs explaining Sulkowicz’s artistic intent, complete with its own “trigger” warning, followed by a dozen or so existential questions designed to help the viewer “reflect” (e.g., “Are you searching for proof? Proof of what?” “Do you refuse to see me as either a human being or a victim? If so, why? Is it to deny me agency and thus further victimize me?”)
Then comes the video itself, which is launched by clicking a “Play” button, which is followed by yet another warning:
By clicking PLAY, I hereby verify that I am at least 18 years of age or that I have a parent’s/guardian’s permission to watch this video. I have read the above text and understand what it means for me to click PLAY.
We clicked “Play” and were greeted by an “X,” making the whole caveat reminiscent of the joke signs that read “Rule No. 1: The boss is always right. Rule No. 2: When the boss is wrong, refer to Rule No. 1.”
The video’s release was first reported by the art website artnet, which also interviewed Sulkowicz about the video’s content. Although it has only surfaced now, the video was apparently created several months ago, over Columbia’s winter break.
“I am interested in what the public does with it, which begins with the way they deal with it from the moment it’s disseminated,” Sulkowicz told artnet, adding that she “definitely” was seeking to make a statement about how videos can go viral.
Sulkowicz’s decidedly unique artistic career isn’t finished either, she says. She told artnet that a third work of art would be debuting within a week, and insisted she wants to become known for more than just carrying a mattress.
“Yeah, I mean, when people call me ‘Mattress Girl’ I find that really infuriating,” she said. “It’s like, OK great, so you think that I’ll never progress beyond that point. That I’ll be a ‘Mattress Girl’ rather than a living, breathing person who has the ability to change.”
It’s safe to say that Sulkowicz has her wish. She won’t just be known for carrying a mattress anymore.
This report, by Blake Neff, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.