[…] It is hard to fathom the effect “Carry That Weight” will have as it proceeds — on Columbia, on Ms. Sulkowicz, on the consciousness of sexual assault on campus, or on the thinking of people who encounter her performance. But it seems certain that the piece has set a very high standard for any future work she’ll do as an artist and will also earn her a niche in the history of intensely personal yet aggressively political performance art.
It is so simple: A woman with a mattress, refusing to keep her violation private, carrying with her a stark reminder of where it took place. The work Ms. Sulkowicz is making is strict and lean, yet inclusive and open ended, symbolically laden yet drastically physical. All of this determines its striking quality as art, which in turn contributes substantially to its effectiveness as protest.