Saturday, April 19, 2008


I'm stealing from Perez Hilton here, but you must read about this artwork done by an undergraduate at Yale.


sophie said...

Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow. Wow. Wow.

I'm glad I read her statement before reading Perez Hilton's statement, because he CLEARLY hates this project. And she uses really, really big word that I don't understand and makes her project sound really sophisticated.

I really don't know what to think about this. I don't think it's "abusing a woman's right to choose," as Perez Hilton writes, but I'm having a really hard time embracing this as art.

Here's something I love that she wrote:

"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."

I couldn't agree more. In fact, that's exactly (literally: EXACTLY) what my thesis is about.

The reason I think this project is good is because it makes people talk. She's going to get a lot of shit for doing this, and she knew that when she started the project, but she's going to get a lot of people talking about a lot of different things. I think that's a successful work of art.

The more I think about it, the less disturbing it is. But I, like Perez, have a hard time think she didn't do this at least PARTIALLY for shock value.

Still, I think my verdict on this is that I like it. I think it's a really interesting work of art, and I love that it was done by a college student. This piece will be studied for a long time. Good for her.

Will F said...

I think that this is a really powerful piece. It is definitely controversial and is going to make many people very angry, but there is more than shock value here. Rising above the grotesque nature of this piece is a commentary on the validity of cultural norms, specifically those involving bodily functions.

Her argument is that the "correct" functions of the body are no different than any other social construction. This idea supports a constructionist understanding of reality in which norms exist because we say they do. When the viewer is presented with the artists menstrual blood/abortion, we have the power to classify it as we see fit. As free agents, we are not forced to adopt the current popular conception of what is "natural", but rather each individual serves as his/her own reference for what is natural. In other words, bodily functions, social relations, and morality are not objective truths, but rather have their base in subjective judgments, which allows for them to evolve and change.

This world view is similar to that of Nietzsche in "the genealogy of morals". In short, the point he was trying to make is that morality is not something that is eternally static, but rather evolves with the changes in time and culture. What is considered moral and good today was not considered in the past and may not be considered good in the future. By tracking the changes in moral conceptions, one is able to gain a better perspective on and understanding of one's own values.

I think that this piece serves a similar function as a study of the genealogy of morals because it forces us to re-evaluate our views of how the body should function. This piece can help us to either crystallize our current bodily conceptions or force us to change our idea of what is natural. Either way, I think that this piece will spark a necessary internal dialogue.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, it took me awhile to comment on this article because it took me a VERY long time to read her artist statement and accompanying articles. It wasn't just because it was a difficult topic, and as Sophie said, Shvarts uses some tricky words, but I had a powerful repulsion to the piece.

I can't deal with blood, at all, it makes me faint when I see it in movies or hear about it, or really pretty much when it makes its way into any context. My phobia aside, I think my reaction speaks to the obvious power of the piece. I don't think many are comfortable with the elements involved in the topic, and yet people are drawn to it en mass (Boy, are people talking. Follow more on the Yale Daily News site:

Its not a work that I personally would want to go see in a gallery, but I support its place there. It's pure power, regardless of the message, is admirable.

Having said that, I'm glad that the work didn't go farther (I think it actually could have...a more developed fetus, something like that) because I think that might change my opinion.

Excaliborn7 said...

These are FANTASTIC comments. Great to read. I hope the rest of you will make your voice present here as well. Good stuff.

Mysha said...

Wow, ok so where to start... First off If I had just read her artist statement I would say she has a very strong conceptual piece (no pun intended, but still dirty funny) The thing I find most interesting is the fact that no one knows if she actually ever artificially inseminated herself, or if she took abortion pills. By keeping everyone “involved” anonymous, she cuts out anyone involved in this project except herself, so this pieces livelihood relies on her sticking to her story. We can only go by what she said she had done, and we as the viewer choose what we need the piece to be. Had she actually completed her project as stated I would pose the question of where she acquired that many highly regulated, very expensive pills. Also, the damage done to the body with repeated, close in interval, flushing would put into question the reliability and accuracy of the statement.
I don’t think the university should censor her project, seeing as she is extremely accurate in her defense of the work, though she should be aware of a task force coming to question where she obtained the drugs for self-induced abortions.
Now, after reading more articles from different sources I would say she knew full well this held shock value and was going to create uproar. No one sends out a press release about an abortion project and doesn’t expect it to be shocking enough to run it as a news story. I agree it helps start a discussion about the body as a medium, but the conversation was started in the late 60’s through the 70’s when people were nailing themselves to cars and hanging from cables by hooks in their skin or cutting into themselves or nailing through their penis. The list can go on, so in that sense I find her reasoning rather weak, if she wants to start a dialogue to what extent the body may be used in art, then I can see a more concise argument in her favor.
Also, I don’t think the university was ever “behind” her on this work, I can’t imagine a university, especially one like Yale to say “we full heartedly support you artificially inseminating yourself and then giving yourself 9 abortions” I just don’t think she is being honest that they were liking her project until the media attention. People aren’t stupid; anyone, and everyone would know this would start crazy, crazy frenzies. If our university won’t even let me do my senior project without a waiver, I don’t think Yale would say Shvarts has their full support on an issue that is so touchy. Now, whether or not they said she could complete this piece, or if she told them about this piece and they didn’t stop her, isn’t the same as giving her their support in my estimation.
Overall, I do think this is art. I don’t personally like the piece of art, but I do like how strong she is being in her defense and how knowledgeable she is about her work and all of the attacks she can counter. I also believe that if she is brave enough to do this work, true or not, she is putting herself in a very good position to be one of the next controversial artists. I mean, the views online and in the news of her project is a testament to her audience, whether people agree or disagree with the piece, if they watch her piece they are implicated in the body of work and I think that deserves recognition.

|NUggET| said...

Well, pretty much all the ideas I thought of were addressed by the previous comments. The idea is ridiculous, dirty, and immoral to present day standards but as a performative piece, that may or may not have happened, the concept itself heightens. The fact that she STATED that no one knows how many times she performed it(but herself) makes the conception itself very real (and a real event) and interesting to the audience of the online-world and reality who do not know what are true facts anymore.
I personally do not believe she actually did this and would not want to know. I like it just as an insanely conceptual performance piece that pushes our boundaries especially after chris burdens time.
I would definitely not call this a beautiful piece but an effective piece.

ziploQ said...

It is hard for me to expand, when so many of my ideas have already been posted. But I do believe that this is art, in the sense that it has caused such a great reaction. Just look at the online views, or even read these comments, you can really tell that this piece had an impact on people. I also feel like this piece touches on many different things and very much agree with mysha when she says that because of the ambiguity in this piece the viewers/observers are able to view it how they need to view it. it can be seen as a myth, or something she actually did. i do believe that she knew of the shock value that this was going to cause, and with current discussions on abortion how could it not? but i also can tell that much thought went into this and it was made for more than just "shock value" though i agree and would not want to see this work, i do respect the impact it has caused and discussions it is able to begin.