‘Mattress Girl’ Emma Sulkowicz Is Back—And Channeling Her Rage Through BDSM

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Two years after “Mattress Performance,” Emma Sulkowicz continues to provoke. Her most recent piece, in which she was bound, berated, and hung from the ceiling, tackles the question of the value of art under the Trump administration.

Emma Sulkowicz is a performance artist living and working in New York City, though most recognize her as the Columbia University student who made headlines her senior year in 2014. Sulkowicz, then a visual arts undergraduate, focused her thesis Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight) on hauling a dorm room twin-size mattress everywhere on campus to protest the university’s mishandling of her sexual assault complaint against a fellow student. Sulkowicz and Mattress Performance sparked a national debate about sexual assault on campus. As coverage increased, Sulkowicz—wielding a 50-pound mattress and wearing blue hair, a somber expression, and absolute resolve—became the center of a larger culture war tearing through America.

During Sulkowicz’s senior year, the community that we now know consists of the socially conservative, the alt-right, the Trump voter, and the many trolls that fall into the aforementioned categories, made Sulkowicz the symbol of what they believed to be political correctness gone berserk on campus and society at large. For many others, Sulkowicz became a hero. Here was a woman demanding accountability and justice from a society that allows and perpetrates sexual violence.

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‘Mattress Girl’ Emma Sulkowicz Is Back—And Channeling Her Rage Through BDSM

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