22 April 2008

Art, Shvart

Have you heard the story of Yale art student Aliza Shvarts? I'm sure the corporate newsreaders are loving this one, but I don't know because I don't watch.

Anyway, here's the basic story:

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.

Be sure to read the rest. What kind of faculty advisor would approve this project? This kind.

I've seen stuff like this before. Nonsensical and narcissistic, meant to exalt the artist more than anything else, despite the pseudophilosophical psychobabble meant to qualify it as serious, profound and significant.

Shvart's sophomoric foray into art is not art at all-- and I don't mean in the sense that it doesn't qualify as art; I mean in the sense that it's something else, an unwitting reflection of American zeitgeist disguised as performance art. Accidentally using oneself to illustrate the social psychology of narcissism and gender identity issues is an immature revelation of ineptitude, not a work of art.

And you don't have to take my word for it; Laurie Fendrich has street cred and here's what she wrote:

For those of us in the contemporary-art business, the Yale squabble isn’t all that interesting. Ms Shvarts’s undergraduate project sounds so, well, so undergraduate...

The dispiriting part about Shvarts’s tempestuous teapot isn’t really the art — whether it’s morally offensive, or not, or good, or bad — but the fact that putatively edgy art projects are really guided to completion by faculty advisers who inexorably turn what was once upon a time a fierce counter-voice to culture into soft, risk-free, pseudo-avant-garde exercises in calculated offensiveness.


Anonymous said...

Alex Boese of the Museum of Hoaxes wrote about this a while ago but hasn't updated:


Snopes spotlighted a Costa Rican artist who starved a dog for art:


I do know of an art project at NKU where a student used bone fragments from his cremated father.

WestEnder said...

I read that Dali did a "project" in which he asked acquaintances to send pieces of their poops.

Anonymous said...

Here's another art project/prank: