The most talked about person on Wellesley College's all-female campus — distinguished alma mater of the likes of Madeleine Albright, Norah Ephron, and Hillary Clinton — isn't a woman at all. It's a man. A creepy, paunchy, bald sleepwalking man in his underwear, immortalized in sculpture form and parked on a quad, where he is freaking everyone the fuck out.
According to the Boston Globe, the sculpture is called Sleepwalker, and it's by Tony Matelli, an artist who is currently featured at the college's on-campus art museum.
According to students at Wellesley, what the fuck even is this? One tipster described the sculpture, which currently appears as though it's lumbering through Munger Meadow, as "vile," and writes, "There's nothing I want less than a statue of a naked dude lurking outside my dorm window." Squicked out students have also petitioned the school asking that the sculpture be removed, calling it "triggering" and suggestive of sexual assault.
But not everyone hates the poor Sleepwalker. Museum Director Lisa Fischman argued that the statue isn't violent or scary at all; in fact, she defended its passivity with a letter that wouldn't be out of place in a Portlandia script.
Matelli's Sleepwalker — considered up close — is a man in deep sleep. Arms outstretched, eyes closed, he appears vulnerable and unaware against the snowy backdrop of the space around him. He is not naked. He is profoundly passive. He is inert, as sculpture. But he does inspire narrative. He appears to have drifted away from wherever he belongs and one wonder why; one wonders also how he has gotten so lost, so off course. He is a figure of pathos, and one that warrants measured consideration. Perhaps he carries metaphorical weight.
Art provokes dialogue, and discourse is the core of education. In that spirit, I am enormously glad to have your response.
Furthermore, adds Fischman, the statue stays.
I mean, yes to all of that stuff, but it's still kind of scary looking, and, given my druthers, I probably wouldn't want to pay $57,000 a year to live near it.