Mattress Performance Art Inspires National Movement

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Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
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Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protests at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protests at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protesters at Columbia University, New York. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Columbia University, New York. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protesters at Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Mansfield University, Pennsylvania. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Mansfield University, Pennsylvania. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protests at Columbia University, New York. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protests at Columbia University, New York. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protesters at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protesters at Connecticut College. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protesters at Connecticut College. Photo: via Twitter.
Carry That Weight protests at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.
Carry That Weight protests at Pennsylvania State University. Photo: via Tumblr.

Inspired by the mattress performance art piece of Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz, protests against sexual and domestic violence were staged across the country and the world this week.

For her senior thesis project, Carry That Weight, Sulkowicz has committed herself to carrying a mattress until either her alleged-rapist is expelled, or she graduates (see “Columbia Student’s Striking Mattress Performance“). This is her way of publicly protesting the school’s lackluster response to her accusations of rape.

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 “carrying that weight together” joined forces to send a message that sexual assault will not be tolerated.

At Columbia, students stacked 28 mattresses outside Columbia president Lee Bollinger’s doorstep. “We wanted to make sure he could not ignore us,” organizer Zoe Ridolfi-Starr of student activist group No Red Tape, told New York Magazine. “It is more and more clear that we have to bring this issue to his literal doorstep if that’s what we have to do to make sure our voices are heard and survivors are protected in this community.”

The National Day of Action follows on the heels of a student walk out held by CalArts students last week (see “CalArts Students Protest Sexual Assault With Walkout“) and growing activism on college campuses. The Carry That Weight movement, shared on social media under the hashtag #CarryThatWeight, looks to create safer schools and support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.


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