In case you haven’t heard, a number of delicate damsels and/or censorious puritans at the so-called liberal arts college Wellesley have gotten their granny panties in a knot over a temporary outdoor installation of art by Tony Matelli entitled The Sleepwalker.
Warning: the image below may be offensive to you, especially if you’ve been sexually assaulted by an older male somnambulist undergoing chemotherapy.
The account below comes from the “Globe,” the newspaper, of course, no stranger to controversy having covered in its day the banning of many works in Boston including Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and the Everly Brothers’ Wake Up Little Susie.”¹
Anyway, “Zoe Magid, a Wellesley College junior majoring in political science, started a petition on Change.org with other students asking college president H. Kim Bottomly to have the statue removed.” The petition in part reads
[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering (sic) thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community [. . .] While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space.
Here’s a thought, Zoe. Given that you’ve only been out of high school for 3 years, why not leave the selection of temporary art installations to professionals who know what they’re doing and stick to those skills you’ve mastered, like Tweeting (#philistine), You’re following in the footsteps of Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft, the latter who famously had the piece of filth below covered with curtain in the Robert F Kennedy Department of Justice Building because exposure to an aluminum breast is, well, um, not necessary.
Not only are poly sci majors down on The Sleepwalker, but art history major Annie Wang² also wants the statue removed because she sees it as an “assault”.:
“I think art’s intention is to confront, but not assault, and people can see this as assaulting,” Wang said. “Wellesley is a place where we’re supposed to feel safe. I think place and a context matters, and I don’t think this is the place to put it.”
I just don’t get it. The statue ain’t exactly Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde, and I believe my 83-year-old mother could out run the poor [pardon the tautology] unhip, unattractive, tightie-whitie wearing somnambulist. I suspect that what really offends these young ladies is that the statue embodies unbeautifully the thing they most fear: growing old.
1. I shit you not.
2. By the way, I’m offended by Ms Wang’s surname because it brings to mind verbal assaults I suffered in locker rooms after PE in junior high school.