Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia, was allegedly raped on the second night of her sophomore year and now she plans on carrying the weight with her wherever she goes, literally.
In this video for the Columbia Daily Spectator, Sulkowicz sits next to her navy blue dorm room mattress, which she will be carrying around for as long as she attends the same school as her rapist.
"The mattress is the perfect size for me to just be able to carry it enough to continue with my day, but also heavy enough to continually struggle with it," Sulkowicz explains.
She decided to get creative for her senior thesis and is calling it the Mattress Performance Art Project or "Carry That Weight."
"The past year of my life has been marked by telling people what happened in that intimate and private space and bringing it to light," the Columbia senior said. "So I think the act of carrying something that is normally found in our bedroom out into the light is supposed to mirror the way I've talked to the media and different news channels."
She's not as nervous about carrying the mattress as she is about all the attention she's received. One of the rules of engagement is that she's not allowed to ask for help, but she is allowed to accept help if people come up and offer it.
"It's an endurance performance art piece and it utilizes elements of protest because I think that's relevant to my life right now and how I've been dealing with these issues," Sulkowicz said.
She's hoping that she'll not only get better at carrying the mattress, but also that people will learn about the piece when they see her.