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The Floating World // Emma Sulkowicz


Ukiyo, or “the floating world,” describes the hedonistic culture of kabuki theater, geisha, bath houses, and pleasure quarters in Japan’s Edo period. It is homophonous with the Buddhist term for “this world of sorrow and grief.” The Floating World is an exploration of the meaning of support.  When people experience pain or trauma, their loved ones “hold them together” and “lift them up.”

The installation consists of a series of glass orbs, suspended and connected in a hybrid style of shibari and ukidama, or Japanese fishing floats. Each orb holds a floating artifact of the artist’s relationship with a member of their community.

Emma Sulkowicz (b. 1992) is an American artist of Japanese-Chinese-Jewish descent who lives and makes art in their hometown, New York City. They earned a BFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2015 and studied studio art in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. They are perhaps best known for their senior thesis at Columbia University — “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)” — an endurance performance artwork in which they carried a dorm mattress everywhere on Columbia’s campus for as long as they attended the same school as their attacker. Their 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).

Instagram: @emsulk

On View
March 10–April 22

The Glass House
51 Bergen St.

Opening Reception
Saturday, March 10

Gallery Hours
ThursdaySaturday, 1–7pm
Sunday, 1–5pm