Artnet has confirmed that Emma Sulkowicz, the former Columbia University student known for “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),” is behind the website “Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol .” The site hosts an artist’s statement from Sulkowicz, who graduated from Columbia in May of this year, and a video she filmed with director Ted Lawson several months ago over the university’s winter break.
The eight-minute video features Sulkowicz and a man, his face blurred, engaging in what appears to be consensual sex that turns violent. The unidentified man open-palm slaps Sulkowicz, chokes her, removes the condom, then continues to have very rough sex with Sulkowicz, who whimpers and protests from pain. In the accompanying text, Sulkowicz warns that the video is not a recreation of the events in August 2012, a reference to the night Sulkowicz claims she was raped by fellow Columbia student, Paul Nungesser.
The video comes with a trigger warning and series of prompts authored by Sulkowicz such as:
- How well do you think you know me?
- Have we ever met?
- Do you think I’m the perfect victim or the world’s worst victim?
- 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? If so, what do you think of the fact that you owe your ability to do so to me, since I’m the one who took a risk and made myself vulnerable in the first place?
- Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me?
In an interview with Artnet, Sulkowicz insisted this performance piece is not a companion piece to Carry That Weight. “They’re two separate performance art pieces,” Sulkowicz says, “but I’m trying to make them both as good as I can. And I think that with performance art, that’s part of what makes it good…making yourself vulnerable. But they are completely different pieces.”
Sulkowicz warns viewers in the accompanying text: “If you watch this video without my consent, then I hope you reflect on your reasons for objectifying me and participating in my rape, for, in that case, you were the one who couldn’t resist the urge to make Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol about what you wanted to make it about: rape.”
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