Treatment by Emma Sulkowicz
Organized by Harry Philbrick and Tina Plokarz
What would you like to discuss with the doctor today? What do you desire? This irresistible, almost indecent invitation entails a sensory, attentive performance by New York artist Emma Sulkowicz. Over the course of a month the artist will install a parafictional medical clinic in Philadelphia, where she will provide a revolutionary cure for human desire. In 30-minute sessions, one-to-one with the artist, Sulkowicz in her role as practitioner “Dr.” Emma Sulkowicz MD, creator and leading expert of the patented Healing Method™, empowers her clients—participants put in the place of patients—to satiate their desire through personalized treatments.
In her previous nationally recognized performances, Carry That Weight (2015) and Self-Portrait (Performance With Object) (2016), Emma Sulkowicz has repeatedly experienced the insatiable desire of audiences to touch her body. Rejecting and inverting this intimate wish in a public performance, her wellness center will provide customized treatments to redirect and cure the participants’ feral desires. In a broader sense, the fulcrum of her new work is the artist’s questioning of theoretical concepts of touch, superstitions about healing and the valuation of women in society. In her role as a curative servant Sulkowicz particularly challenges the insufficient appreciation of Asian American women in the service sector in the United States, who are both a growing population and an important class of workers in education, the social and cultural sectors, and entertainment. The artist intertwines concerns about the objectification of the female body with broader issues relating to individual freedom, self-determination, morality, and desire, as well as to the boundaries between art and life. Sulkowicz’s practice builds upon the conception that the human body is a representation of social configuration and performative intervention which reflects the artist’s courage in both a broader and personal sense to publicly process a despicable act of violation against women.
Emma Sulkowicz is an American artist and performer of Japanese-Chinese-Jewish descent who lives and makes art in New York City. Graduated in 2015 from Columbia University, she is currently a studio artist at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program. Known for her endurance performance Carry That Weight (Mattress Performance), for which she spent her senior year carrying a mattress on campus as a public demonstration and institutional critique of the University’s handling of rape, her more recent works include Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol, an Internet-based participatory artwork, and Self-Portrait (Performance With Object), her first solo gallery show, which reacts to the media’s sensationalization of sexual violence and her assault. The Healing Touch Integral Wellness Center will extend the artist’s in-depth research on issues of social interaction, public conversation on rape and women’s role in society. Her awards include the National Organization for Women’s Woman of Courage Award (2016) and Susan B. Anthony Award (2014), the United States Student Association’s National Student Movement Builder of the Year Award (2015), and the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine’s Ms. Wonder Award (2015).
Visit the Image Gallery for this project.
Watch our interview with Emma Sulkowicz for our Project Interview series below:
Listen to the January 23 Artist Talk:
The Healing Touch Integral Wellness Center is kindly supported by 3rd Street Gallery.