A female Columbia University student is using her senior thesis to create a performance art piece that also serves as a protest of university policies that have kept her alleged rapist on campus.
Visual arts major Emma Sulkowicz will carry her dorm room mattress wherever she goes on campus until she no longer has to share a campus with her alleged rapist, she tells student newspaper The Columbia Daily Spectator.
Sulkowicz says she was raped in her dorm room the first night of her sophomore year at Columbia. Two other women have also said they were raped by the same student, who was found not guilty in all three cases and remains at the school.
In a column for Time last May, Sulkowicz described the pain she went through that night, writing: “When I was raped, I was screaming ‘no’ and struggling against him. It was obviously not consensual, but he was turned on by my distress.”
Sulkowicz described her thesis — titled “Mattress Performance” or “Carry That Weight” — as an endurance performance art piece. “A mattress is the perfect size for me to just be able to carry it enough that I can continue with my day, but also heavy enough that I have to continually struggle with it,” she told The Spectator.
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