A Yale University student's senior art project, which she said documented her bleeding during repeated self-induced abortions, sparked a protest on campus, an outcry on the Internet, and debates over morality, medicine, art and academia.I wish the WaPo would report that in addition to the "outcry on the Internet," there were plenty of people, including myself, who immediately spotted a hoax.
And -- the project was all faked. Senior Aliza Shvarts told Yale officials yesterday that she didn't get pregnant and didn't have abortions. But that didn't stop an outpouring of emotion as the story spread....
Within hours after the article ran yesterday in the student newspaper, blogs were full of livid reactions, including horror that so many fetuses were apparently aborted, revulsion at the graphic nature of the piece, shock that someone would risk her own health in such a way, and general disdain for art and academia.
In a statement yesterday, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said: "Ms. Shvarts . . . stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman's body."Ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman's body... So that's what passes as insight at Yale these days? If I was going to get livid and horrified about something it would be that a great university sucks so many young women into the into the intellectual graveyard of Women's Studies. Think what these women could be studying instead of this endlessly recycled drivel. If you care about women's bodies, study science and help us with the limitations of the body. But to imagine you are helping us by restating meager platitudes is just very sad.
Shvartz, an arts major, told the Yale Daily News: "I believe strongly that art should be a medium for politics and ideologies, not just a commodity. I think that I'm creating a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be."So you "believe strongly" in the boring dogma that's been circulating in the art world for decades? Do you believe anything interesting or original that might make it worth inflicting yourself on the world in the form of an artist?
"It's supposed to challenge the mythology of the body," [said classmate Juan Castillo]. "Are we only supposed to do what our bodies were 'naturally' meant to do, which is to procreate?No, the conversation about whether we are only supposed to do what "our bodies were 'naturally' meant to do, which is to procreate" has been going on for a long, long time without the "spark" of a jejune art project.
"I think she was definitely trying to spark conversation. In that respect, she's accomplished her goal," Castillo said. "But I don't know if she meant it to get this crazy, this out of control."
The only interesting question is who was dopey enough to think this wasn't a hoax. WaPo would like us to think it was only those deranged internetters who get everything wrong. But it seems to me that a lot of the Yalies were slow on the uptake.
ADDED: The first commenter here links to this Yale Daily News item headlined "University calls art project a fiction; Shvarts '08 disputes Yale's claim." She's saying her school libeled her?
But Shvarts stood by her project, calling the University’s statement “ultimately inaccurate.”Ultimately inaccurate? That sounds weaselly.
But Shvarts reiterated Thursday that she repeatedly use a needleless syringe to insert semen into herself.Who's to say she didn't? Produce the sperm donor! Sue the university for libel! Let's keep thinking about Shvarts and her semen injections, because it's really enlightening on women's issues. Put her on "Oprah." This is at least as profound as the "pregnant man."
At the end of her menstrual cycle, she took abortifacient herbs to induce bleeding, she said. She said she does not know whether or not she was ever pregnant.At the end of her menstrual cycle... she got her period!
“No one can say with 100-percent certainty that anything in the piece did or did not happen,” Shvarts said, “because the nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties.”Uncertainties... ambiguities... that's so heavy.
This afternoon, Shvarts showed the News footage from tapes she plans to play at the exhibit. The tapes depict Shvarts — sometimes naked, sometimes clothed — alone in a shower stall bleeding into a cup.Oh, great, homemade porn.
Yale’s statement comes after a day of widespread outrage all across the country following an article in today’s edition of the News in which Shvarts described her supposed exhibition, which she said would include the video recordings well as a preserved collection of the blood from the process, which she said she is storing in a freezer.Right next to the Haagen Dazs vanilla raspberry swirl frozen yogurt.
IN THE COMMENTS:
It would of been cool if it was true.
I would love to see an art piece of hundreds of people on toilets pinching a loaf also.
Also, pictures of the hog in different "moods" would be interesting.
Tits bouncing in slow motion on thousands of televisions would also be something that should be explored in someone's art.
I'm really into Avant Garde shit.
ADDED: The Chronicle of Higher Education presents the issue in terms of protecting the free expression of the student:
Robert M. O'Neil, a free-speech expert at the University of Virginia, agreed that displaying the Yale student's artwork is about freedom of expression. "Art departments have always been and must remain shelters for creativity which sometimes offends and often challenges," said Mr. O'Neil, director of the university's Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. But he also acknowledged that such a message "doesn't usually go down terribly well with people in the outside world."(The boldface is mine.)
[T]he episode at Yale has prompted questions about what constitutes legitimate academic work and how far universities should go in giving voice or providing a platform to students who express outrageous and offensive opinions. The incident also has caused people who already are skeptical about what they see as an anything-goes attitude in higher education to feel even more alienated from the world of academe.
This is framed as if the "people in the outside world" don't understand art and don't care about free speech. But that's not how I've written about the problem here. I'm big on free speech. That's why I want more speech and why I'm dishing it out in hefty portions here. I'm being "outrageous and offensive" as I try to shine some light on bad, boring, unoriginal, lame, weak and bad for women and damaging to abortion rights. I am concerned not with the strength of the academic citadel, but with its feebleness. What is this elite institution giving young people if it pads out their minds with art world and Women's Studies ideology. Where is the critical thinking? Where is the education?
(I'm saying this as someone who has put a lot of time and energy into studying and caring about feminism and who wasted my undergraduate education years frittering away my powers in the art school of a great university.)
At least the Chronicle has the sense to talk to Roger Kimball: "What does a higher education mean and what is going on in these privileged, expensive redoubts of educational endeavor?"
But why am I reading that, when Roger Kimball has a blog. Yes, he's writing about this, of course:
I know that in the universe occupied by Ivy League academics, the spectacle of a woman repeatedly inseminating herself, quaffing abortifacient drugs (“herbal” ones, though: we’re all organic environmentalists here), and they video taking the resultant mess poses a problem. I mean, in that universe there really are basic ethical standards: Thou shalt not smoke, for example. Thou shalt not support support the war in Iraq. Thou shalt not vote Republican. There really are some things that are beyond the pale.
But when it comes to “art”: oh, that’s a tricky one. Shvarts “is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art,” the Yale spokeswoman said. But doesn’t it depend on the nature of the performance?
Read the whole thing.