Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014


Well, it’s been a while since I posted an update on Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz and her performance art thesis. So here you go.

I’m sure we all know how much I love art with a message. When I first learned of performance art I knew it was for me. It’s bold, evocative, racy, profane (in some instances), and for lack of a better word- ballsy. It highlights issues faced by people every day and it focuses you to reflect internally about what is happening in your own mind, body, life, and world. When I first hear of Emma Sulkowicz’s thesis I was intrigued instantly. It commands attention and draws a diverse audience with a common thread- prevention of sexual assault on college campuses and prosecution of those who commit offenses.

According to artnet she’s sparked a movement across the world. “On October 29, mattresses were held aloft at 130 college campuses in more than 30 states and five countries, from Hungary’s Central European University to Berkeley in California, as participants “carry that weight together” joined forces to send a message that sexual assault will not be tolerated.” I give Emma and those who joined the movement on Oct. 29th a lot of credit. I went to a big football and party school where a lot of things were swept under the rug by boards and presidents. And in a world of Jameis Winstons and Treon Harris, justice may only come when the community, and world, is no longer able to “turn a blind eye”.

Taking a stand like these individuals did is not only brave, but necessary. An artistic decision has sparked this movement and it doesn’t seem like the fire is dying out any time soon.


3 comments on “#carrythatweight

  1. Jenni
    November 7, 2014

    Thank you for the update! This is so encouraging. And I really applaud this student for doing something so bold and loud.

    As someone who wants to find a way to connect theatre to awareness of human trafficking and violence prevention, I find this kind of performance art really intriguing. I love how much attention it has brought to the very real issue of sexual assaults on college campuses. Awareness is half the battle, but there is so much more that has to happen for people to start changing their behavior and the way they think about the issue. I’m very curious to see where this goes.

  2. hgenetos
    November 7, 2014

    I had no idea her movement had gone global. It shows the power of this issue and the power of performance art. I hope to see it spread to more areas around the world. I’m curious to see if it will spread to countries where honor killings are more prevalent. That is when we know that this has truly spread and that people want their voices to be heard. The use of the bed from protest to performance art shows that the power of the arts in taking a protest to another level.

    I was moved by her interview for New York Mag and felt I should share her words with you.

  3. jessicamallow
    November 7, 2014

    Art can reach so many people in so many ways, and particularly when speaking about a social issue, its relevancy skyrocketed. The fact that it continues to spread is a positive indication of its success. Some may object saying this that is less of an artistic matter than a social issue, but I would argue that here she’s taken them both and made a stand using the pull from each vantage point.

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This entry was posted on November 5, 2014 by .
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