The controversy at Yale continues over the claims of senior art major Aliza Shvarts that she artificially inseminated herself and then induced miscarriages as part of an art project. Yale issued a statement that the claims were false and merely part of her “creative fiction.” She now says the university is lying and that she did use the miscarriages for art.
The art piece is reportedly a large cube suspended from the ceiling and wrapped in layers of plastic that are smeared with blood samples from the purported miscarriages mixed with Vaseline. It is supposed to be unveiled next week. She has said that videos will be project on the side of the cube and the gallery wall showing her experiencing induced miscarriages in her bathtub. She says that
“The most poignant aspect of this representation — the part most meaningful in terms of its political agenda (and, incidentally, the aspect that has not been discussed thus far) — is the impossibility of accurately identifying the resulting blood.”
It appears that menstruation is a big part of Shvarts past writing and art — a type of signature for the young artist.
Shvarts wrote in a university paper that “For the past year, I performed repeated self-induced miscarriages. Using a needleless syringe, I would inject the sperm near my cervix within 30 minutes of its collection, so as to insure the possibility of fertilization.
On the 28th day of my cycle, I would ingest an abortifacient, after which I would experience cramps and heavy bleeding. … Because the miscarriages coincide with the expected date of menstruation (the 28th day of my cycle), it remains ambiguous whether the there (sic) was ever a fertilized ovum or not. . . . The reality of the pregnancy, both for myself and for the audience, is a matter of reading.”
Ahhh, for the days when art could be a bowl with fruit. For those who want to wait in line, the art is still scheduled to be shown from April 22 to May 1 at Yale’s Holcombe T. Green Jr. Hall.
However, it is not clear whether Yale will now stop the showing. The university in such a case is in a difficult position. Such actions, while obnoxious, are not illegal. Moreover, there is the claim of artistic expression: “This piece — in its textual and sculptural forms — is meant to call into question the relationship between form and function as they converge on the body,” she wrote.
In an exchange with Yale officials, Shvarts went further to claim that the project was not only true but “university sanctioned” and that the University was “on board” when she planned her art. She said that Yale’s Davenport College Dean Craig Harwood, as well as at least two faculty members within the School of Art supported the project.
The Yale public affairs office appeared livid and sent an email in response to her statement in the Yale Daily News that “We are disappointed that she would deliberately lie to the press in the name of art.”
Yale previously indicated that “Had these acts been real they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.” It is not clear if that means that they will take steps against her.
For her column in the Yale Daily News, click here.
For the story and a picture of Shvarts, click here.