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But it’s art! Emma Sulkowicz releases sex video of herself in effort to “change the world”

June 5, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Emma Sulkowicz, the former Columbia University student known for 'Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),' released a video of herself having what appears to be consensual sex that turned violent in her newest art performance.

          Not safe for work

Sulkowicz has just released a video that purports to reenact (or sort of reenact) that alleged rape blow by blow, as it were. Actually it’s only a half-reenactment; Sulkowicz seems to be playing herself, but an actor, face blurred (fortunately for him), plays the part of Sulkowicz’ assailant. Sulkowicz’ much-photographed blue-covered mattress also has a starring role. The eight-minute video, artily titled in French Ceci n’est pas un viol and directed by Ted Lawson, a friend of Sulkowicz’s, is um, graphic. Actually, you might call it pornographic, as the couple, after doffing their clothing with astonishing speed, engage in a number of voluntary sex acts–lovingly (as it were) filmed from four different simultaneously running cameras at different angles–before her partner gets nasty and starts slapping the Sulkowicz character around and apparently penetrating her against her will.

NSFW is an understatement for the Sulkowicz video–and you might think there was something salacious about it if you hadn’t been informed over and over that, like Sulkowicz’s campus mattress stunt, it has a Higher Artistic Purpose. You can click onto the video from this website, which consists of a stern, if slightly incoherent “trigger warning” purportedly written by Sulkowicz herself:

“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.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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One Comment
  1. I watched the video. To call this an “art piece” is beyond ridiculous. The so-called “trigger warning” (trigger warnings are nonsense to begin with but that is another topic) should have mentioned it was just a pornographic film, and a boring one at that. Something I found ridiculous about this case is the alleged perpetrator in this “case” was cleared by Columbia University. Really? I think rape should be dealt with by the legal system. You know, actual judges, police, and courts? Not bureaucratic hacks at universities – who have no real legal authority.

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