Why is it that people are allowed to take the weirdest stuff, label it “art,” and we’re all expected to behold it in reverent awe? Sometimes a realistic statue of a man sleepwalking in tighty whities is just uncomfortable. And by sometimes I mean all the times.
Students at all-women’s Wellesley College are perturbed by a piece of public art from sculptor Tony Matelli called Sleepwalker. More than 100 students have signed a petition to have the statue removed from the high-traffic area, and it's not hard to see why.
It’s a highly realistic statue of a man that appears to be shambling in his underpants.
The campus museum’s director Lisa Fischman defended the piece, saying it was meant to evoke response and start a discussion.
We placed the Sleepwalker on the roadside just beyond the Davis to connect the exhibition -- within the museum -- to the campus world beyond ... I love the idea of art escaping the museum and muddling the line between what we expect to be inside (art) and what we expect to be outside (life) ... as the best art does, Tony Matelli’s work provokes dialogue, and discourse is at the core of education.
Meanwhile, there’s an offensive statue of a nearly nekkid man in a highly populated area of campus that’s making young female students uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with being troubled by this -- telling students they have to endure it for the sake of art is not a valid excuse to keep it there.
Wellesley College senior and art history major Annie Wang said it best:
I think art’s intention is to confront, but not assault, and people can see this as assaulting. 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.
Amen, sister. Put that thing back where it came from -- or at least move it inside the museum so people who want to see such things may do so without assaulting everyone else’s sensibilities.
Do you think this kind of “art” should be left in public?