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What is This Nearly Naked Man Doing at This College Campus?

The ‘Sleepwalker’ statue sparks criticism from students, residents.

Screen grab
Screen grab

By Danielle Masterson

Is that a real person walking?

The question has been asked a lot lately at Wellesley College near Boston as a life-sized statue of a nearly-naked man in his underwear was installed on campus. The staue is part of Tony Matelli’s exhibit “New Gravity” at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum.

The “Sleepwalker” statue has elicited a strong reaction. On the Davis Facebook page, a woman commented: “Now we're celebrating near naked statues of older men on campus? Sorry, don't get it. Don't think it belongs there. Do not understand how passers by are supposed to know it is connected to an indoor art installation.”

A student added: “This isn't something that should be displayed openly on our campus, nor should it be considered art. Very disappointed in the college.”

change.org petition was created to ask the school to remove the statue and received 250 signatures. However, the school responded Tuesday that the statue would remain.

Lisa Fischman, the director of the Davis Museum, said in her complete statement:

Dear all,

Thank you for your engagement and for your thoughtful response to Tony Matelli's Sleepwalker, which was installed this afternoon on the Wellesley campus.

Art has an extraordinary power to evoke personal response, and to elicit the unexpected. 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). I watched from the 5th floor windows today (intermittently, over several hours) as students stopped to interact playfully with the sculpture. 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.

Matelli's Sleepwalker -- considered up close -- is a man in deep sleep. Arms outstretched, eyes closed, he appears vulnerable and unaware against the snowy backdrop of the space around him. He is not naked. He is profoundly passive. He is inert, as sculpture. But he does inspire narrative. He appears to have drifted away from wherever he belongs and one wonder why; one wonders also how he has gotten so lost, so off course. He is a figure of pathos, and one that warrants measured consideration. Perhaps he carries metaphorical weight.

Art provokes dialogue, and discourse is the core of education. In that spirit, I am enormously glad to have your response.

Respectfully yours,

Lisa Fischman

Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director

Davis Museum at Wellesley College

In a further statement on the Davis Museum website, Fischman said the “Sleepwalker” was placed on the roadside in an attempt to connect the exhibit “to the campus world beyond our walls.”  

MICHELLE CLOWSER February 05, 2014 at 12:27 PM
While interesting and all, it isn't really hyper local. I'm not sure what this article in Boston has to do with the East Bay Area in general, let alone the Castro Valley Patch. Is it possible that it is because the Patch has decided to lay off most of it's local editors and there is now a dearth of local news to cover? I wonder...
macgeek February 05, 2014 at 12:51 PM
at AACC they have a statue of MLK.. which is also ridiculous... There are more white men than blacks that did great things for America, but I don't see their statues at AACC.
Ciao February 05, 2014 at 12:56 PM
Doesn't interest me. I want to read about out local news (nj) Bergen cty).
Margaret Austin February 05, 2014 at 01:03 PM
THE SEMI CLOTHED MAN IS NOWHERE NEAR ART. NOW DAYS THE TERM ART IS GROSSLY MISSNAMED AND MISSUSED AND I ADD MISSUNDERSTOOD..
Grumpy Old Man February 05, 2014 at 01:52 PM
People, stop even writing comments on these inane stories. The more comments the more they will post them. Maybe if they are ignored we can get back to some local news, if the new Patch comprehends the term "local"!
Charles Hale February 05, 2014 at 02:06 PM
the news & features section has news & features. These are features. home page has the pure local news
Reader February 05, 2014 at 02:16 PM
All sorts of local news on the home page of my Patch, so not quite understanding this thread. But: if you aren't interested in a story, it's pretty simple -- don't click on it. There are lots of stories in my local paper that I'm not interested in -- I just skip them. I imagine one of the reasons Patch laid off editors and some people are seeing less local news is because the company was losing hundreds of millions of dollars having a full-time editor in every community. If Patch doesn't right the ship and figure out the economics of making it work, no one will be commenting on Patch about the lack of local news because there won't be a Patch to comment on.
Judith February 05, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Tony Matelli is technically a local boy who made good. He was born in Chicago. Arlington Heights picked up the story, but it could very well have been picked up by any other local Patch. I see no fault in any local Patch picking up a story that isn't directly connected to it and I don't understand why anyone would object. Also, sometimes there just isn't enough of interest to fill a particular local Patch's segment so they fill in.
Grumpy Old Man February 05, 2014 at 02:49 PM
Unfortunately until the story is clicked on you don't know where it occurs. Anything in the headline of this story that does? Nope. There were and are plenty of local stories to fill an on line paper in Chicago. The point is that one would like to know that it is a local story - this might have been of interest if it involved a local university or school here in Cook County, or even in northern Illinois. This story didn't involve an interest feature on Toni Matelli which would have been of interest to people in Chicago. That he is a local boy is besides the point as far as this story is concerned. And yes, Patch will be going bye bye if it keeps up this kind of story because people will stop clicking on it. Too bad. There were some good local stories in it and the trend in America is increasingly electronic. The issue, by the way, is not local stories with a national impact - there are those. The issue is local stories with no impact - like a man sitting on a railing 3 stories above the ground floor falls off - that may have interest in the locality but just what anywhere else. On the other hand, the story about the decision of the judge upholding the Conneticutt law which was passed after Newton was local but has national importance. This story doesn't meet the test. Sorry, we disagree.
Reader February 05, 2014 at 03:23 PM
@Grumpy -- actually it's more likely that Patch would go bye-bye if they continue to do only the kind of stories you say you want to read. That's how they lost $200 million.
Grumpy Old Man February 05, 2014 at 03:58 PM
If you can back that up with proof I am willing to listen. If you read the comments on this and other posts you will note the vast majority of readers are not content or happy with this policy. And I didn't say they should not run this story. Its that they should run it where people who read it are interested in it. It's not the story its where the story is posted. I am not sure where the entity which bought out most of the Patch (I understand AOL still has some interest) is located, or what their actual new or publishing experience is. I don't reject your argument. I just find it counter intuitive especially based on comments on these stories.
Bob Gross February 05, 2014 at 04:49 PM
Tony Matelli is somewhere with a huge smile on his face because of the publicity he's receiving. If he were to pay for advertising that had the same amount of reach it would cost him thousands of dollars. Congrats Tony!
theresa barnett February 05, 2014 at 05:22 PM
O.K.? As long as it didn't escape from NJ.
JTTPW February 05, 2014 at 05:23 PM
This has nothing to do with my locality. If Patch can't cover local news, then it's time to close up shop. Thank you.
Reader February 05, 2014 at 05:51 PM
@Grumpy - here's a good background article on the problem Patch faces in doing hyperlocal news in a cost-effective way. A lot of it has to do with the decision by AOL to put full-time editors in hundreds of small towns that couldn't support the sites with advertising. That's what Patch is digging out from. It's a great idea for sure. The riddle is in the execution. We all want news about what's happening around the corner, but we don't want to pay for it. And if the advertising isn't there to support it, well, who does? Check ou the article and see what you think. http://michelleferrier.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/too-big-to-fail-aol-patch-tried-land-grab/
Justin February 05, 2014 at 08:40 PM
@Grumpy The vast majority of readers don't comment on stories. Only the most vocal. So, if you see 15 negative comments on a story that's received thousands of clicks, it doesn't mean all that much. And you've got to figure, by including national stories, Patch is able to garner a lot more clicks than they would otherwise, if they focused solely on local stories. That's how they make their money. And local stories only appeal to local readers, which isn't a large enough of an audience to keep you in business for very long. A purely local news format cannot compete against national news outlets on the internet, because clicks are measured by the thousands, not by the hundreds. The days of print are long gone.
The Peoples Champ February 05, 2014 at 09:01 PM
Tony Matelli’s & Lisa Fischman ARE 2 JERKOFFS! THIS IS NOT ART! IT LOOKS LIKE AN UGLY OLD PETIFILE IN HIS DIAPER! I AM GLAD THIS PIECE OF CRAP IS IN BOSTON WHERE IT BELONGS! I THINK THIS IS REALLY (BILL BELICHICK) THAT CHEATING BASTARD! JUST AFTER HE GOT CAUGHT!!!
Larry Fine February 05, 2014 at 10:06 PM
Red Sox
Upset February 05, 2014 at 10:24 PM
Why don't you come to Tufts campus once a year,they do the Quad Nude Run every year ! They do this at the night and daytime on the same day. In and outside the campus,like in front of the big gym.Talk about them if they wears the underwear!! They were wearing NOTHING! God damn it, I mean NOTHING! Look at "You Tube" and you will find out!
Grumpy Old Man February 06, 2014 at 07:30 AM
@Reader @Justin - OK. I agree. My problem though is the almost deceptive manner. I would prefer they put some idea as to where the story originates in the caption so I know where to spend my time and click on if I want or ignore (I clicked on to this one because it appeared interesting but to be frank, when I saw it wasn't local, I was turned off - the artistic value, or lack thereof was no longer any concern - what me worry in the estimable Alfred E. Newman's vocabulary). In my local Patch when a story originates in another area when I click on it the local patch in which the story originated appears not my local patch like many of these articles do. I still do see the switch in some posts, usually on blogs that get in. Ho Hum. Thanks for your comments. I still think they ultimately are in trouble because it is hard to determine what the silent majority, in Dick Nixon's parlance, have to say but I suspect many agree with the vocal. I hope Patch continues because there are local stories and I agree, the electronic media is the future.
Larry Fine February 06, 2014 at 02:24 PM
NJ Devils suck
chris February 06, 2014 at 03:14 PM
This has nothing to do with Long Island, New York. Please do not post items like this on the HHH Patch.
Maddie Chambers February 06, 2014 at 05:20 PM
Being in a community that this is actually local news for seems foreign on this page, but this actually applies to me. I would like to get engaged in conversation with people from all over, but on local issues, such as these, that not many people from other places know about, is not really the type of material to create that kind of dialogue. However, I do want to raise a point concerning the article and maybe other people that are interested in this topic will join in as well. The artist placed this statute on the campus of a prestigious well-known woman's college, which has since then sparked controversy with the locals and women of the college, including issues of male privilege, and the safety of women. This is an issue that is not simply going to be forgotten and I think it should be resolved by the relocation of the art; even to the inside of the museum at least. The main point however is that this is right along side a busy main road and is a distraction to drivers. There was a boy who was killed by a passing car in Wellfleet, Ma this past summer and there was a "ghost bike" placed on site as a memorial, but it is threatened with being taken down, as it is labeled a distraction. How can this all-white bike against a guardrail pose more of a distraction than a nearly naked, realistic human-like statue right alongside a road? Especially the fact that the statue is a highly controversial art piece, while the ghost bike also being an art piece in its own regard, is a memorial for a murdered 16 year old boy and is in being taken down while the statue is not. I believe that this is very wrong. http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20140203%2FNEWS%2F402030304%2F-1%2FNEWS11

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