Samstag, Juni 06, 2015

Sex-Video des Matratzenmädchens: Kritiker uneins über künstlerische Qualität

Inzwischen berichten recht viele englischsprachige Medien über den Vergewaltigungsporno von Emma Sulkowicz. Während gestern im Internet vielfach die Meinung geäußert wurde, mit diesem Video habe sich Sulkowicz endgültig als seelisch gestörte Person geoutet und sei damit selbst für Feministinnen zu einer peinlichen Belastung geworden, sieht man unter Journalisten sowie im Genderlager die Dinge völlig anders.

So bezeichnet die Zeitschrift Elle den Film als "powerful follow-up to her mattress protest", und auch bei der Huffington Post ist man von der künstlerischen Qualität des Videos beeindruckt:

Sulkowicz's first post-grad piece is simple yet stinging, providing imagery that lingers like a nightmare, never quite comprehensible but impossible to forget.

Eine Rezensentin bei The Frisky findet das Video "complicated and brillant":

This is a participatory artwork, a digital conceptual artwork, and a performance artwork. The title “Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol” is a reference to René Magritte’s “Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe,” the most famous of his artworks that challenged the viewer to understand the difference between an object, the word that signifies that object, and a visual representation of that object (so, an actual pipe, the word “pipe,” and a painting of a pipe are not all the same thing even though you could point to all three, say “pipe,” and be understood).

Similarly, Sulkowicz is challenging the viewer/reader to understand not the difference between an actual rape that happened to her and a simulated rape in the video, but to understand the difference between their own definition of rape, how they’ve applied it to her, and what rape actually is.

(...) Some commenters are saying that this isn’t art. Yes, it is. (...) I didn’t watch the video. (...) Had I watched, I wouldn’t have watched it as pornography, and I wouldn’t have watched it to cast judgment; I would have observed the act and probably felt heartbroken for her. That’s the only way to watch the video with her consent. Any other form of viewing – viewing for pleasure or disgust – is non-consensual.

(...) Now, about the comments section: Sulkowicz didn’t have to provide a comments section. At first glance, I thought it was odd that she did. But then reading them, I realized what she was doing, because the vast majority of the comments are disparaging toward Sulkowicz herself as well as towards her art. Sulkowicz is giving the commenters who view the video as pornography or who view the video in order to bolster their presumptive hatred of Sulkowicz the rope with which to hang themselves. She is letting them reveal themselves to be hateful of rape victims, to be willing to impose their own subjective definition of rape on a person they don’t know (remember the question: "How well do you know me? Have we ever met?") in order to disparage her. This is not indicative of their attitude toward only Sulkowicz: It’s indicative of their attitude toward rape victims in general. And although many of them talk in their comments about "real" rape victims, and how Sulkowicz is making things harder for them, it becomes quickly apparent that those commenters are the people who are making things harder for rape victims by prescribing to them – and to us – what they are or are not willing to consider rape, how "real" we are or not, and how worthy we are of their trust or their disparagement even though they don’t know us.

"Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol" is, I hope you can see, an absolutely brilliant and tremendously nuanced critique of so many things: How viewers of artworks treat art; whether subjective definitions of rape are useful or objectively true; the public narrative that if a rape is found by an investigative body not to have happened, it automatically means that no consent was violated, regardless of the victim’s opinion on the subject, and whether or not those members of the public or of the investigative body were there; how the public tends to treat rape victims; the sensationalized, titillating way the public is willing to interpret rape; the relationships and differences between art, pornography, and rape; and on, and on, and on. She has done so much with so little, although I have no doubt that this was a difficult project to conceive and for Sulkowicz, especially, to produce.

Sulkowicz demonstrated a lot of tenacity and candor with the "Carry That Weight" performance, but "Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol" demonstrates just how good of an artist she is. I look forward to her career, I have no doubt that it will be tremendous.

Auch bei The Fusion ärgert sich der Autor, John Walker, über die kritischen Kommentare unter dem Video und merkt an:

None of the commenters who claim to have watched the video appear to have obtained the artist’s permission before viewing. (...) I’ve decided not to watch Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol without obtaining Sulkowicz’s permission first. I’ve reached out to her, and I’ll update if I hear back.

Auf einer ähnlichen Linie wie in den bislang genannten Beiträgen argumentiert auch Emma Cueto auf The Bustle:

Taken together, the website itself seems to serve as the full installation, raising questions not just about consent or about trauma but also public responses to sex, violence, trauma, and victims.

Since her Carry That Weight project gained national attention, Sulkowicz has faced intense backlash; many have called her a liar and an attention seeker who is trying to ruin an innocent young man. One anonymous person (or perhaps several people working together) even went so far as to put up posters of Sulkowicz calling her a "Pretty Little Liar" around Columbia’s campus over her graduation weekend. People also have used Sulkowicz’s Facebook messages with Nungesser to "prove" she was not a victim.

"Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol" is not nearly as straight forward a piece as Carry That Weight, and is one that seems to be speaking as much to people’s reaction to Sulkowicz as it is about what she herself has experienced — which, given the strong reactions people have had and continue to have judging by the comments section on the site, is certainly a dynamic worthy of investigation.

You can find the project, including the video, here. (And for the love of all that is good and holy, for your peace of mind and ability not to be destroyed by rage aneurisms, do not read the comments.)

Bei den Florida International University Student Media kommentiert Sam Smith:

This past May, Emma Sulkowicz graduated from Columbia University, an Ivy League school. As a part of the project she has become known for in recent months, she brought the mattress where her rape took place with her on stage, despite an addendum via email by Columbia asking for graduates not to bring "large objects" to the ceremony. When Sulkowicz walked across Columbia’s graduation platform with her mattress in hand, I felt that something had changed, even minimally, even if the point of "Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)" was futile. Despite the fact her rapist remained on campus for the duration of her time at Columbia, Sulkowicz reminded so many by walking off that stage that there is potential for healing, sisterhood and strength in times of adversity, where everyone is against you.

However, the bravery and strength necessary to attempt such a project, nonetheless admitting to an experience of rape, has been criticized by those who believe in the social fallacy of the "perfect victim." Sulcowicz’s decisions to act positively through her healing experience, along with her interactions with her rapist, have been criticized and deduced as "proof" that she was not, in fact, raped. Without this criticism, there’s already enough scrutiny in the questioning a rape victim goes through at the hands of officials like detectives and doctors, who often leave survivors feeling even worse about their situation.

(...) A survivor comes in many forms, but there’s only one way to express your utter distrust and hatred of victims of rape and sexual assault, and that’s by not believing them.

Aber auch von all den gemeinen Leuten, die Sulkowicz Video kritisch bis ablehnend betrachten, gibt es längere Beiträge – von unterschiedlicher Qualität. Auf der linken Website The Daily Beast etwa argumentiert Lizzie Crocker (die den Film ebenfalls nicht gesehen hat) passagenweise ebenfalls so, als ob die behauptete "Vergewaltigung" eine feststehende Tatsache wäre:

Her desire to dictate the way people consume her work—to determine not just her narrative, but ours—undermines her credibility as an artist.

To be clear, neither the video nor Sulkowicz’s mattress performance undermine her experience of being sexually assaulted and the trauma that she suffered.

But when you turn a personal experience into a public spectacle and declare it art, you invite criticism. Part of performing is being judged and critiqued on the merits and quality of that performance.

Performance art pieces like Sulkowicz’s video often intend to make a statement, but they transcend art when the artist demands that there’s a right and wrong way to interpret her piece.

Sulkowicz wags her finger at those who watch the video "without my consent"—in other words: pruriently, "objectifying me and participating in my rape."

But the video is by nature prurient. It’s sex on camera, even if it blurs the lines between consensual sex and rape.

Viewers are meant to feel uncomfortable and guilty if we take anything away from the video other than unmitigated support for the artist and what she represents.

Milo Yiannopolous äußert sich auf Breitbart weniger einfühlsam über die Künstlerin und ihr Werk. Seine Rezension ist erschütternd respektlos, und wenn Sie die folgenden Texte nicht aus der Perspektive tiefen Abscheus darüber lesen, sollten Sie am besten gar nicht weiter lesen – andernfalls vergewaltigen Sie Genderama:

In preparing for this review, my researcher had to watch Emma Sulkowicz, a.k.a. "Mattress Girl," perform fellatio on an overweight man eleven times. He tells me that he is now seriously considering homosexuality.

Sulkowicz is famous for an extremely dubious rape allegation against a fellow student at Columbia University, and then staging a bizarre and attention-seeking "protest" at the university’s and subsequently local law enforcement’s stubborn refusal to find him guilty purely on her say-so.

She carried a mattress around with her on campus and refused to put a stop to her narcissistic antics until he was punished (for a crime he most likely did not commit) or she graduated (which, for reasons that escape the common man, Columbia has allowed her to do). The boy’s account of what happened between the night Sulkowicz says she was raped and graduation is harrowing, and serves as a warning to any student stupid enough to consider having sex on one of today’s college campuses, with their Twilight Zone extrajudicial rape hearings and the absurdities of Title IX legislation.

Naturally, Sulkowicz has become a feminist icon. But the activists and bloggers who supported her will be feeling a little uneasier this week, after she peeled back a few more layers on her own deep psychological dysfunction and apparently limitless ego by resorting to that age-old remedy for waning stardom: the sex tape.

Of course, like Sulkowicz’s previous psychiatric outburst, it’s all dressed up as "art," else the men in white coats would already be on their way over to Morningside Heights. A website, titled "This is not a rape" (in French — ooh la la!) hosted, until earlier this afternoon, the video, which we may as well do the courtesy of examining as a work of creative activity, as Sulkowicz insists, rather than a sordid cry for help.

Good porn never starts with a pop quiz so we’re off to a poor start with the site’s bizarre and incomprehensible statements which reach for, but fail to grasp, profundity. Sulkowicz’s inner nine-year-old is never far from the surface: questions she asks visitors include “Do you think I’m the perfect victim or the world’s worst victim?” and “Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me?”

And then it’s down to business. If you absolutely must watch the video, you can, at least for the time being, find it here. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Porn star Mercedes Carrera described it earlier today as "a bad amateur sex tape from an attention-seeking histrionic." She was being too generous… but let’s plough on.

At the start of the tape, Sulkowicz enters a dorm room, blue-haired — for that is the uniform of the Internet feminist and masturbatory social justice warrior — pursued by a bear. Online critics have expressed dismay at the fact she hasn’t bothered to make the carpet match the drapes by dying her pubic hair blue. It’s a recent innovation known to the social justice community as "the full San Francisco." Perhaps this fashion-forward intimate grooming trend is yet to appear on the east coast.

What follows is punchy. By which I mean Sulkowicz gets punched, though she insists in the unhinged copy on her website that everything in the video is consensual. There follows much quivering of flesh and a deeply unsatisfactory blow job. As a queer, I can tell you it is probably the most lazily and messily administered head I have seen in years. If this is the sort of oral sex straight men are getting, can anyone blame them for retreating into pornography and video games?

Emma gets on top and grinds around for a minute or so, trying to show off her sinewy, sexual side, but leaving this author wondering if she might need a scoliosis brace. Then there’s a bit of punching, and a bit of apparently forced sex — which Sulkowicz says has nothing whatsoever to do with her alleged real-life rape, not at all, not one bit, don’t you even think it!

(...) Perhaps the most despicable section of the film is the creepily self-conscious fetal position into which Sulkowicz places herself after her sexual partner has left the room, clothes in hand. She’s practised that for hours, has our girl. For how long, one wonders, did she rehearse?

Readers anxious for more granular detail will most likely already have followed the link above. We shall pass over gorier specifics, save to observe that for someone who has previously urged a sexual partner to "Fuck me in the butt," Sulkowicz doesn’t seem to particular enjoy this activity, nor show any special aptitude for it.

(...) It’s revealing of her vanity that she insists on being filmed from four angles. Every crevasse of her unappealing naked body must be considered. Her congressional interlocutor is a gruesome sight in three dimensions, chosen, probably, to make young Emma look thinner. Which doesn’t work, I’m sorry to say.

All in all, it’s a tawdry, miserable encounter that tells us nothing about sexual assault or sex itself but quite a bit about the quasi-demonic inner workings of one Emma Sulkowicz.

This tape is not a depiction of rape, even a fictional one. (She puts the condom on him, for a start. Later, she entreats him: "Hit me again.") It is a clumsily choreographed exercise in self-love designed to propel Sulkowicz into the public eye again, just as her original false allegations and mattress-carrying did before. It obliterates the line between guilty pleasure and revolting spectacle.

And, just as her mattress fiasco damaged the real victims of rape by making it harder for women everywhere to report crimes and be believed, so too does this narcissistic sociopath’s latest pseudo-intellectual endeavour make life worse for other women. By subordinating every element of the video’s production to her own intergalactic ego, Sulkowicz trivialises rape by leveraging it as a trivial plot point in the continuing melodrama of her own self-obsession.

Nicht unbedingt von tiefem Respekt für Sulkowics getragen ist auch Kevin Boyds Beitrag auf The Hayride:

What she doesn’t tell you is that the allegations have little merit. Every rape and sexual assualt allegation leveled against the young man have been tossed out. (...) Meanwhile, Sulkowicz has decided to pursue a new outlet to express her grief, porn. (...) What we have here is a girl who is milking her 15 minutes of fame as long as she can. In a just world, she would be in prison for falsely accusing a young man of rape. Instead, she’s making porn.

This is how insane we have gotten as a society on campus rape. It appears that we have thrown out the presumption of innocence and we’re suppose to take the stories of people like Mattress Girl at face value. Whenever their stories are proven false, nothing happens. Instead, Mattress Girl and her feminist allies continue to slime the young man who they falsely accused of rape.

Die deutsche Huffington Post bringt die Debatte schon in der Überschrift ihres von Sebastian Christ verfassten Beitrags voran: Vergewaltigung: Warum gilt für Männer so selten die Unschuldsvermutung?

Das Bild der jungen Frau, die mit leidendem Gesichtsausdruck eine Matratze mit sich herum trug, weckte Schutzbedürfnisse bei Männern und Frauen. Offenbar meinten viele, dass Sulkowicz von der "Last" befreit werden musste, die sie mit sich "herumtrug". Carry That Weight. Auch deshalb war es so stark und wirkte, wie Hillary Clinton wohl meinte, als "Anklage". Dass Sulkowicz womöglich selbst Täterin in Sachen Rufmord ist, und dass zum Zeitpunkt der Performance bereits alle Ermittlungen gegen Nungeßer zu dessen Gunsten abgeschlossen waren, kümmerte offenbar kaum jemanden so recht.

(...) Nungeßer war zwar kein Prominenter. Doch auch er gab offenbar als Mann ein gutes Täterschema ab. Erfolgreicher Student, bewunderter Sportler. Ein Überflieger. Man hört den Boulevard förmlich raunen: Glaubt so ein Kerl am Ende vielleicht, dass er sich alles nehmen kann? Dahinter stecken männerfeindliche Stereotypen.

Zuletzt gibt es zwei erwähnenswerte Artikel, die weiterführende Informationen zu dem Sex-Tape enthalten: 5 More Bizarre Facts About The Mattress Girl Sex Tape sowie Part Of Emma Sulkowicz’s Latest Art Project Disabled By Cyber Attack.

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