EMMA SULKOWICZ: Well, I first came up with the idea when I was at an art residency this summer, and I was making a video where I had to move a mattress out of a room. And sort of the idea of me carrying a mattress got stuck in my head, as a song might get stuck in someone’s head. And I unpacked the image and realized all of the symbolic importance of what it would mean to carry a mattress around with me at Columbia, and I realized I had to do it.
AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean?
EMMA SULKOWICZ: Well, in my case, I was raped in my own bed. And, of course, rape can happen anywhere, but for me, it sort of desecrated one of the most intimate and private places of my life. And the way that I’ve brought my story from a place that I keep secret out into the public eye sort of mirrors carrying the mattress itself out into the light for everyone to see. So I felt like it would be an appropriate metaphor."
How does she feel about the CPS decision? “Just angry at the continuing coverup, and the fact that they can have the audacity to claim that the relationships were genuine in any way. There is no way anybody would consent to a relationship with somebody if they knew they were using the identity of a child who’d died, if they knew that they were there to spy on them, if they knew that everything about that person was fake.”
It has been suggested that people lie in relationships all the time – the “single” person who turns out to be married, the one who takes a few years off their age – but this is hardly comparable, she says. “What other kind of police misconduct is justified on the basis that other people do it? And actually, it isn’t like lying about your age; it’s a whole false identity – name, date of birth, history, politics, job. Everything about that person is false.”"