About a week and a half ago, Aliza Shvarts announced that her senior art project at Yale involved inserting herself with semen, taking herbal abortifacients, and then collecting the blood (abortion or period?) for an art installment. Yale responded with a press release calling the whole thing performance art, i.e. a hoax, but Shvarts told the Yale Daily News that the official school statement was inaccurate. Our intern Colin, who's currently a sophomore at Yale, gives us his take on last week's big blow up:

The news of this art project was released in the middle of a debate about the divisions between student athletes and other populations and right on the brink of Arnold Schwarzenegger's arrival for a gubernatorial summit on global warming. It's as if we were in pressure cooker of emotional issues and Shvarts's piece was the flame that boiled us over.

On this issue many students are confused and distraught. We don't know who to believe anymore, the administration or Shvarts, and no matter what the "truth" is when it comes to this matter no one's satisfied. We've suffered an exhausting academic year full of controversy and divisiveness (we've had transfer students with fraudulent documents, a student expelled for filming himself having sex with an unknowing girl, racist and homophobic graffiti, sexist hazing rituals and students who've passed away over spring break) and this is one more event we walk away from not knowing how we're supposed to feel as a student body...

Although in some of the most exceptional of cases, Shvarts's project has succeeded in producing interesting conversation about the conceptual boundaries of art, ethics, politics, and the female form, the devastatingly injurious implications of this art piece are not at all worth the sparse dialogues that begin to address the issues she sought to bring to light. Everyone I've spoken to has acknowledged how this event terribly plays into the hands of anti-abortion conservatives. Up to this point we have been able to discredit suggestions that without institutional control women would run rampant with their right to receive abortions. It seemed ludicrous, absurd, even laughably far out. Unfortunately Shvarts has made this a distressing reality.

No one's happy to have this art piece exist and Yalies are mainly ashamed that their reputations are tangentially attached. Some had to simply stop answering their phones last week as neighbors, and teachers, and family from their home states had been calling non-stop condemning the university. Last Monday we hosted our admitted students during Bulldog Days, giving them a chance to get a feel for the campus and the college experience, and everyone affiliated with Yale is terrified that with this news so close many parents won't be okay with sending their sons and daughters to a school that seems so out of control at the moment.

Last week was our last week of classes and everyone was eagerly awaiting taking a break from this year and the emotional and political rollercoaster it's put us through.


swann said:

Ashamed? WHO ARE YOU to judge this piece? Shvarts is brilliant. You're feeling of "shame" must be based on your inability to accept the human body as anything beyond some western notion of "god's creation". Jeez way to support putting the woman back in the kitchen.

jastine said:

This is utterly horrible. I dont get how this can be art. Its disgusting and unimagineable. I understand art and the art of art but this i do not understand.

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