He’s lewd. He’s nearly nude. And he’s creeping out the students. Meet the Wellesley sleepwalker.
Meet “Sleepwalker,” the latest thing to roll out of the studio of Tony Matelli. The New York artist created the eerily lifelike sculpture for an exhibition at Wellesley College’s Davis Art Museum. Sleepwalker is more than a little unsettling, clad only in a pair of underwear and with his arms outstretched, as if sleepwalking. The museum’s staff decided to stick him on one of the campus’ main thoroughfares in order to drum up publicity and inspire “unexpected new ideas,” as the school’s president put it. Sleepwalker is scheduled to be out there until the exhibit closes in July.
However, some students at Wellesley find Sleepwalker cringeworthy and creepy. Since the snoozing sculpture¹s debut on February 4, many have demanded that the college remove it. An online petition arguing that Sleepwalker should do his walking somewhere else currently has over 900 signatures.
Matelli was surprised when he first heard about the controversy. “I think that these people are misconstruing this work,” the artist told a Boston TV station. “This is a person who is an outsider, he¹s displaced. So I thought the reaction would be empathy.”
Meanwhile, according to museum director Lisa Fischman, most people are fine with Sleepwalker. “I watched from the 5th floor windows today…as students stopped to interact playfully with the sculpture,” she wrote on the petition’s website. “They took selfies with him, snapping pics with their phones, and gathering to look at this new figure on the Wellesley landscape—even as the snow fell.”
There are no plans to relocate Sleepwalker just yet. He may still be out there come spring.
What do you think? Feel free to share your own take in the comments section below.