Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia graduate famous across the country as “Mattress Girl” after she hauled a mattress around campus for a year to protest the school’s handling of her alleged rape, has apparently released a sex tape recreating her alleged rape.
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. 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. (RELATED: Mattress Girl Carries Her Mattress To Graduation)
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 a preface of Sulkowicz’s artistic intent, reproduced in full below:
Trigger Warning: The following text contains allusions to rape. Everything that takes place in the following video is consensual but may resemble rape. It is not a reenactment but may seem like one. If at any point you are triggered or upset, please proceed with caution and/or exit this website. However, I do not mean to be prescriptive, for many people find pleasure in feeling upset.
Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol is not about one night in August, 2012. It’s about your decisions, starting now. It’s only a reenactment if you disregard my words. It’s about you, not him.
Do not watch this video if your motives would upset me, my desires are unclear to you, or my nuances are indecipherable.
You might be wondering why I’ve made myself this vulnerable. Look—I want to change the world, and that begins with you, seeing yourself. 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.
Please, don’t participate in my rape. Watch kindly.
A special thank you to everyone who made Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol possible, especially my actor (*********), my director (Ted Lawson), and those I love who have guided and supported me.
The preface also includes questions for the sake of “reflection,” reproduced in full below:
- Are you searching for proof? Proof of what?
- Are you searching for ways to either hurt or help me?
- What are you looking for?
- Do you desire pleasure?
- Do you desire revulsion? Is this to counteract your unconscious enjoyment?
- What do you want from this experience?
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?
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. (RELATED: The Text Of The Mattress Girl Lawsuit Will Shock You)
“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,” she 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.
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