Thursday, April 17, 2008

Abortions for Art at Yale

Let us hope that, as supposed here:
that this is, indeed, a hoax.

Either way, I wonder whether her parents are...proud.

Also, with regard to abortion rights (you know: "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!"); is THIS what is meant?

For Yale senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse

My reaction to the article and to the comments:

I am at a loss for the proper adjective.
Saddened? Deeply.
Horrified? Yes, and at some fundamental level.

Let me state: I do not care for some of the issues noted by others: I do not care about what this technically adult person does to her own body; I do not care about her risk of STDs; I do not care about fallout on the pro-abortion movement.

I do not care about the reaction of G-d or Any Powers That Be (although, if there is some Judeo-Christian god, he is going to be very, very upset).

And I am not sure I can explain my gut reaction--and gut reactions are often the outcome of both Nature and nurture.

And my gut says--this is wrong.

Fundamentally wrong.

Indeed, a crime against humanity. And I mean that.

This is offensive to all that is human--even at the secular level.

Saddam Hussein's sons were similarly self-indulgent, although their crimes also included fully matured humans and not just embryonic potentialities. Theirs were crimes against humanity--and so are Shvarts'.

And more sadly--she will likely perceive the coming outrage as "good debate" (as if genocide against the Kurds--or the Jews--was simply fodder for the chattering classes).

For all those that cry out "slippery slope argument!" whenever Conservatives wish to preserve what decency is left humanity, well, now you have proof that such slopes exist.

I will cut/paste the full article below, because my gut tells me it is not going to be on there for long.

For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse

Staff Reporter
Published Thursday, April 17, 2008

Art major Aliza Shvarts ’08 wants to make a statement.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body. But her project has already provoked more than just debate, inciting, for instance, outcry at a forum for fellow senior art majors held last week. And when told about Shvarts’ project, students on both ends of the abortion debate have expressed shock — saying the project does everything from violate moral code to trivialize abortion.

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for “shock value.”

“I hope it inspires some sort of discourse,” Shvarts said. “Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it’s not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone.”

The “fabricators,” or donors, of the sperm were not paid for their services, but Shvarts required them to periodically take tests for sexually transmitted diseases. She said she was not concerned about any medical effects the forced miscarriages may have had on her body. The abortifacient drugs she took were legal and herbal, she said, and she did not feel the need to consult a doctor about her repeated miscarriages.

Shvarts declined to specify the number of sperm donors she used, as well as the number of times she inseminated herself.

Art major Juan Castillo ’08 said that although he was intrigued by the creativity and beauty of her senior project, not everyone was as thrilled as he was by the concept and the means by which she attained the result.

“I really loved the idea of this project, but a lot other people didn’t,” Castillo said. “I think that most people were very resistant to thinking about what the project was really about. [The senior-art-project forum] stopped being a conversation on the work itself.”

Although Shvarts said she does not remember the class being quite as hostile as Castillo described, she said she believes it is the nature of her piece to “provoke inquiry.”

“I believe strongly that art should be a medium for politics and ideologies, not just a commodity,” Shvarts said. “I think that I’m creating a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be.”

The display of Schvarts’ project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts’ self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.

School of Art lecturer Pia Lindman, Schvarts’ senior-project advisor, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Few people outside of Yale’s undergraduate art department have heard about Shvarts’ exhibition. Members of two campus abortion-activist groups — Choose Life at Yale, a pro-life group, and the Reproductive Rights Action League of Yale, a pro-choice group — said they were not previously aware of Schvarts’ project.

Alice Buttrick ’10, an officer of RALY, said the group was in no way involved with the art exhibition and had no official opinion on the matter.

Sara Rahman ’09 said, in her opinion, Shvarts is abusing her constitutional right to do what she chooses with her body.

“[Shvarts’ exhibit] turns what is a serious decision for women into an absurdism,” Rahman said. “It discounts the gravity of the situation that is abortion.”

CLAY member Jonathan Serrato ’09 said he does not think CLAY has an official response to Schvarts’ exhibition. But personally, Serrato said he found the concept of the senior art project “surprising” and unethical.

“I feel that she’s manipulating life for the benefit of her art, and I definitely don’t support it,” Serrato said. “I think it’s morally wrong.”

Shvarts emphasized that she is not ashamed of her exhibition, and she has become increasingly comfortable discussing her miscarriage experiences with her peers.

“It was a private and personal endeavor, but also a transparent one for the most part,” Shvarts said. “This isn’t something I’ve been hiding.”

The official reception for the Undergraduate Senior Art Show will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 25. The exhibition will be on public display from April 22 to May 1. The art exhibition is set to premiere alongside the projects of other art seniors this Tuesday, April 22 at the gallery of Holcombe T. Green Jr. Hall on Chapel Street.


Anonymous said...

#1 By goffman (Unregistered User) 5:07am on April 17, 2008
I am deeply sorry and disturbed by his project. It was wrong for the student to do this, for the department to approve of this and for the school not to know. I am ashamed as a Yale Student. I am also deeply concerned about the mental stability of this student.

#2 By Molly Clark-Barol SY '08 (Unregistered User) 5:19am on April 17, 2008

way to throw the entire pro-choice movement under the bus.

i don't care what kind of severely misplaced avant-garde aspiration she has, or how much repeated exposure to art theory may have damaged her brain (which it obviously has). this is repellent on every level:

physical: this is maybe the most viscerally disgusting thing that i have ever heard of. 'nuff said. the sheer physical danger that she puts herself in by repeatedly inducing miscarriage, not to mention the possibility of STD infection (and yes i know that they got tested, but she was absolutely playing with fire) boggles the mind. you might as well repeatedly induce tumor growth and receive chemotherapy (the analogy carries over into all other ways that i find this insulting).

intellectual: what kind of advisor approves this? it is hands down the most egregious negligence of responsibility that i have ever heard of. all political implications aside (and, since i doubt this pia character could be in ignorance of them, i can only assume she is as self-indulgent and attention-hungry as her advisee), YOU PUT YOUR STUDENT'S HEALTH AT RISK. i hope this woman is fired, not only for having a hand in this travesty, but for the damage she has done to yale's reputation as an institution of intellectual (not to mention moral) integrity.

political: as gabe already noted, the timing of this could not be worse. i can not imagine a situation in which this does not get included as a development in the historical context of the continued erosion of the right to choose (not to mention the effect on sex education nationally, and, insofar as the US is responsible for providing or witholding funding for international programs to empower women in sexual decision making, internationally). she says that she hopes to engage people in dialogue about this project (the "connection between art and the human body"), but she obviously crawled out from under a rock if she think that a conversation about the meaning of art is the only "dialogue" that will result. and the results of this dialogue will be damaging to every woman in this country. the only political logic i can imagine for this is that she is a crazed, kamikaze pro-lifer. if that's the case, she couldn't have done better for herself.

moral: granted, we get into murkier waters here. i am unabashedly pro-choice, if that wasn't already obvious, but this is still arguably the worst offense. congratulations, aliza shvarts '08: you have single-handedly trivialized not only an entire generation and a half's fight to gain and retain the right to choose, through harassment and against massive odds, but also history of women's struggles, not only politically, but with the emotional, moral, and spiritual impacts of the choice to terminate a pregnancy. you also spit upon every couple who has tried, and failed, sometimes repeatedly, to have children. it is the emotional impact of these struggles, emotional impact that you shamelessly exploit, not explore, in your senior project, that informs the disgust i feel on the other three levels already articulated. frankly, the debate about whether or not your project is "art" or not holds absolutely no interest for me. if you, in this act of supreme, at best, thoughtlessness, and, at worst, selfish disregard for good taste, sensitivity, and moral, intellectual, and political responsibility DO manage to become a success in the art world, crowned queen of process-driven concept art, i will think the less of it.

shame on you.

#3 By A real feminist (Unregistered User) 5:21am on April 17, 2008
Wow. I don't want to call her an idiot, but I think people should have more respect for their own bodies. But if this is what she wants to do in the name of art, then I guess it's technically her freedom.

#4 By omg (Unregistered User) 5:26am on April 17, 2008
this is going to be a DISASTER

#5 By (Anonymous) 7:09am on April 17, 2008
How the hell could a Yale professor have approved this project? Even if you set aside for a moment the utter tastelessness and depravity of it (and this is coming from someone who's pro-choice), isn't repeatedly forcing miscarriages a serious threat to the student's health? Pia Lindman should be fired. This is unconscionable.

#6 By (Anonymous) 7:51am on April 17, 2008
This is what passes for a senior project these days? Had I known that I wouldn't have wasted countless hours researching and writing a 45 page paper on Anglo-Spanish trade relations in the 16th and 17th Century Americas. I'd have become an art major and shit on something and call it art. I hope the department fires the professor and fails the student.

Anonymous said...

It make me want to weep and vomit.

The site is now down. She has her debate.