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'Mattress Girl' absent from TEDx event; Jorge Ramos, remaining speakers focus on migration, borders

Did you suddenly feel sad Friday night, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in disappointment and were suddenly silenced? If so, it was likely due to the absence of Emma “Mattress Girl” Sulkowicz from last night’s TEDxCUNY conference in New York.


The DC Examiner’s Ashe Schow was among those expecting to see the recent Columbia University graduate attempt to add a 16th minute to her fame by delivering a TEDx talk Friday night. A TEDx talk is like the famous TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks but only licensed by, not sponsored by, the non-profit Sapling Foundation.

Schow hyped up readers earlier this week with news that Sulkowicz had returned. For those unfamiliar with her background, Sulkowicz claimed she was raped by a fellow student at Columbia University and began carrying a dorm-sized mattress with her everywhere, naming the performance piece “Mattress Project (Carry That Weight)” and receiving college credit toward her senior thesis. (Her alleged rapist, in the meantime, was cleared of any crime and is suing the university for allowing his name to be dragged around.)

Sulkowicz did attempt to stay in the spotlight with her next art project, an eight-minute pornographic film called “Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol” that depicts consensual sex in a dorm room that turns to a violent assault but “is not a recreation” of her alleged rape.


So of course we were interested to hear her talk about socially constructed borders, but according to Schow, Sulkowicz didn’t show.

For an unspecified reason, she was unable to attend. Maybe she couldn’t jam her mattress into a cab. (Just kidding — “Mattress Project (Carry That Weight)” has been retired.)

It was probably for the best, as many of the speeches focused not on false rape charges but on the topic of the day, “borders and belonging,” with openly biased journalist/immigration activist Jorge Ramos making an appearance via Skype.

Other speakers included Michele Karsouny:

Marta Effinger-Crich:


Undocumented immigrant Aashna Shah:

Jess X Chen:

And speaking of borders, or the lack of them, Galen Baughman:


Don’t ask us. Ask Salon.

There’s work to be done, all right.

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