Friday, April 18, 2008

Art Major Mess

All art is quite useless. -- Oscar Wilde
Alright. It's icky, but (for reasons not entirely clear to me), I feel I have the duty to post on Yale student Aliza Shvarts and her senior art project. Shvarts' project was billed as a provocative exploration of the relationship between art and the human body featuring layers of plastic sheeting smeared with the blood from a series of self-induced miscarriages. Shvarts said she filmed these miscarriages over a 9-month period when she alternately inseminated herself and took over-the-counter abortifacient drugs, and that she planned to project the footage onto the plastic sheeting. "Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it," she told the Yale Daily News, but it's not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone." Anyway, some scandalized parties came knocking, and the project was ousted as "creative fiction." Grossed out yet? Slate's Dana Stevens, who knows a thing or two about abortion and all along suspected that this was a scam, has assessed things nicely:
Hoax or not, I guess Shvarts’ installation is an accomplishment by some negative measure: In a single attention-getting move, she’s managed to make the pro-choice movement, feminism, performance art, and Yale all look bad at the same time ... Was Shvarts' point simply to trick people into being horrified that a young woman might really have done this to herself (and, depending on your point of view about abortion, ended the lives of several incipient human beings in the process). And if so, was her piece a success?
I suspect Shvarts just thought she could get away with pretending she had those abortions in the name of art, but if the deception was part of the project itself I'm a little more intrigued -- her work then becomes more like a highly-effective booby trap for reactionaries on both sides of the issue than just a tasteless and hollow fake-out.

1 comment:

Inbar said...

woah! what the heck?