Viewers Are Invited to Ask Emma Sulkowicz Almost Anything at Her First Solo Gallery Show

Questions she doesn't like will be sent to the Emmatron.

In fall 2014, Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz made national news for her controversial and deeply personal senior thesis, Carry That Weight: Mattress Performance, in which she carried a mattress around the New York campus all year in protest of how the school handled her sexual assault allegations.

In June, following her graduation, Sulkowicz released Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol, the disturbing follow-up to Carry That Weight, but her future career as an artist after her high-profile debut remained uncertain.

Now the recent graduate is receiving her first solo show at Los Angeles’s Coagula Curatorial art gallery. The exhibition, titled “Emma Sulkowicz: Self-Portrait,” will include two new pieces, and provide one of the first opportunities for the public to experience the young artist’s work in person.

For the exhibition, Sulkowicz is making a return to durational performance art with Self-Portrait (Performance with Object), in which she will spend the first three weeks of the show’s run sitting in the gallery, answering gallery-goers’ questions. (Of course, this immediately recalls the work of Marina Abramović—who is an admitted fan of the young artist.)

Emma Sulkowicz carrying her mattress at her Columbia graduation in the conclusion of Carry That Weight. Photo: the Columbia Spectator.

Emma Sulkowicz carrying her mattress at her Columbia graduation in the conclusion of Carry That Weight.
Photo: the Columbia Spectator.

If Sulkowicz doesn’t like your questions, however, she’ll turn instead to the Emmatron, a life-sized, ultra-realistic statue of the artist that has been programmed to answer a specific list of questions to which she is no longer willing to respond. Both Sulkowicz and her robotic double will sit on top of a sculptural platform, and visitors will interact with the Emmatron through an app.

The performance, which will run the first three weeks of the show, will be accompanied by In-Action Figure, a 3-D printed statue of Sulkowicz produced in an edition of 20, which, according to the exhibition release, “reflects the widespread commodification and flattening of her image in the news and on the internet.”

“Emma Sulkowicz: Self-Portrait” will be on view at Coagula Curatorial, 974 Chung King Rd, Los Angeles, February 27–April 3, 2016, with daily performance by Sulkowicz through March 13.

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