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Abortion Art: Higher Education Sinks To A New Low

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If you haven’t heard about the flap at Yale University over Aliza Shvarts and her abortion-as-art exhibit, I’ll break it down for you. For her senior art project, Shvarts allegedly inseminated herself multiple times, after which she induced abortions and collected the residue for display. 

Since no one is anyone these days unless she’s on TV, she videotaped the miscarriages as they were happening. She’s going to play that at the exhibit, too. I don’t know who the lucky sperm donors were (or if they knew they were going to be part of someone’s art homework), but she refers to them as “fabricators.” Isn’t that romantic?

I say allegedly because, according to Yale officials, the whole thing was a hoax. I guess the backlash didn’t suit Shvarts very well because her most recent story is that the hoax was a hoax. She says she inseminated herself and took the abortifacients, but who knows for sure if she was really pregnant? Who cares, right? That’s not the point. The point is…I don’t know what the point is.

According to the artist, the goal of the exhibit was to spark some kind of debate about the relationship between art and the human body. “I hope it inspires some sort of discourse,” Shvarts says. “Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it’s not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone.”

Sure it isn’t. There’s nothing scandalous about repeatedly videotaping your own self-induced abortions. I suppose she didn’t give a second thought to all the women who have agonized over the decision to have an abortion, not to mention all the women who have suffered through miscarriages. Who cares about them? This is art, stupid.

There’s been a bit of outrage over the last few days, but not quite enough. Some people are yakking about freedom of expression. The Yale Women’s Center issued this statement:

“The Yale Women’s Center stands strongly behind the fact that a woman’s body is her own. Whether it is a question of reproductive rights or of artistic expression, Aliza Shvarts’ body is an instrument over which she should be free to exercise full discretion.”

Please tell me that’s a joke. Tell me that statement is part of the hoax. I can hear the conservative pundits now. Shvarts will probably be held up as the new poster child for liberal feminism. The jokes about NEA funding have already started, and that makes me angry.

What do feminism and reproductive freedom have to with self-mutilation? This whole thing reminds me of an episode of Jerry Springer I saw once. There was a porn star hawking her latest movie where she did a “gangbang,” supposedly with 350 partners. If that woman wanted to degrade herself any more than that, what would she, what could she possibly do? Nothing. There is nothing more degrading than being voluntarily gangbanged – or for that matter, making a public spectacle of your hemorrhaging uterus.

You want to have a debate? Let’s talk about narcissism and self-promotion. Let’s talk about the fact that being a feminist does not make you “pro-abortion,” and vice-versa. Being a feminist means being sensitive to the suffering of other women. Liberal feminism is not synonymous with stupidity.

Hey Aliza, next time you want to make a point about art and the human form, do us all a favor and do something a little more tasteful. Next time go for the gangbang.

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About Wanda Rizzuto

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    Well put, Wanda.

  • diva

    I’m having a weird picture going through my head–the Joker dancing in the museum, proclaiming that he’s making art as he mutilates paintings. What was her point–that she bled for her art? This is exhibitionism–but tht doesn’t mean it belongs on exhibit.

    I’d missed this somehow–but my take on it would have been identical to yours, Wanda–so I think I’m done with it. Thank you!

  • Alexandria Jackson

    I’ll never understand modern “art.”
    Whatever will be next? If anything excreted from your body can be art, then I don’t want to see another art exhibit as long as I live. I don’t care about what choice a woman makes with her own body. She has a right to do whatever she wants with it as far as I’m concerned. I care about what is on disply where my children can see it. It’s like the damned bumpernuts.
    What is the answer when someone’s freedom of expression interferes with my right NOT to expose my progeny to things I consider offensive?

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    If only her mom had this idea.

  • Pam Baker

    bleck! I agree with Matthew — too bad her mom didn’t have this idea.

    This gal (I refuse to call her a lady) and the idiot that made the dog starve to death in the name of art are sickos — not artists. I hope their 15 minutes of fame are up. I’d hate to think of them making a good living on this crap -hoax or no.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    Each time I see an issue like this rear its ugly head in society, I’m reminded of The Simpsons and their solution to the advertisements gone wild during a Halloween episode: “Just don’t look, just don’t look.”

    Perhaps if one day we stopped granting attention to the peanut gallery, we’d stop the erosion of common sense occurring in our society. This individual is just another in a long chain of like-minded self-centered individuals who mask their own egotism with pretentious ramblings. The sooner we cease granting them what they seek the better.

    That said, these issues do need to be discussed and the healthy, normal disgust felt by people towards these issues and the individuals that callously perpetrate them (I’m glad someone brought up the dog-starver because he’s the same brand of asshole) is the lifeblood of a society unwilling to give itself over to the demons of bad taste and immorality. It’s a fine line between granting these people what they seek and discussing the awful truth and I think Wanda’s covered that beautifully in her article.

    Rambling over.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Thanks Jordan!

    I hadn’t heard about the starving dog exhibit. For a split second I thought about Googling it…but I won’t.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Um…OK. I read about the bumperballs Alexandra. There’s a mental image I’ll never be able to scrub from my brain. Yeesh.

  • Terry

    I am trying to remain focused on what was said vs. what actually occurred. Currently, there is no evidence that there have been any abortions or miscarriages or videotaping. I believe there has been no physical evidence shown to anyone–or to be blunt, remains of fetuses or amnio-stuff.
    As a result, I judge this as a concept, much like Dostoevsky described the way a murderer kills in “Crime and Punishment”. The majority of DVD’s at the movie store present worse. Whatever I may think about the reality of these miserable, frightening ideas, I understand that some expressions are legitimate artistic endeavor. Some are schlock.
    I don’t know enough about the “artist” in this case but I suspect that she is enjoying the taste of notoriety. She may have deliberately sought it out. If so, I think the more interesting question is how you feel about being part of her art project. I am pretty sure that outrage was exactly what she wanted to elicit, at least in some people.

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    I read this story, then re-read the story, then came here and read your story (nice story, by the way), and I’m still so flabbergasted that I can’t even think.

    I’m not only wondering about her mom, I’m wondering about her professor. Now I’m wondering about Yale.

    This has sparked discussion, discussion on the fall of Western Civilization.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    “If so, I think the more interesting question is how you feel about being part of her art project.”

    That’s really always been the question here, Terry: How a disgusting or vile suggestion or act resonates with the general populous. We are indeed discussing how we feel about the project or about being a part of the project, if by being a part of the project we are simply receivers of its mania. As before, I feel appropriately disturbed by the project. I think that’s a normal reaction to have to such a suggestion. To have a passive reaction is, to me, more disturbing.

    As for the lack of evidence, that will change with the passage of time. She claims to have “video evidence.” Many people cling to disbelief within their own minds, wanting and desiring the thing to be false. That may also be a part of the project, the deception of the thing (if she is being deceptive, that is). Many presume she is, while others take her at her word.

    In my mind, there is no question artists of this ilk deliberately seek out reactions to their work. That is the point of such performance art. In that respect, I would suggest that Ms. Shvarts has simply been terribly outdated by trying to “shock” people with such an issue. If it’s a fraud, we’ve already had people display fetuses and other such things before. In effect, we’ve seen it all. Her crime as a student of higher education, if she is being fraudulent and doing this for simply shock value, would be irrelevance.

    So the options here are simple: she’s either irrelevant and outdated or she’s vile and disturbed. Either way, it’s lose/lose for dear Aliza as her fifteen minutes dwindle away. I’m sure she’ll have plenty of cameras ready to see her piece when it’s unveiled, though, so that’s something I guess. Getting media and public attention these days is a lot like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    By the way, it might be too much dude humor, but check this thread out on Fark and scroll down to the third comment by “Pocket Ninja.” Had me in stitches.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    Thanks for finding that, Matthew. That post was a thing of beauty!

  • Alexandria Jackson

    Matthew, that was a fantastic post. “Pocket Ninja” should write for Blogcritics.

    Wanda, I can’t get the images from your story out of my mind either!

  • Terry

    You don’t provide much wiggle room Jordan. It is clear you don’t like the very idea or the project. Hoaxes are built on claims, so I am not going to get too excited about any claims here until the video appears.
    I think she has succeeded wildly by the amount of discussion it generates. It may not be the current fad or even all that well-thought out, but I think it is safe to say she wanted controversy and she got it. Your assessment that it is a “lose/lose” situation assumes much. As of this moment, there is nothing but words and those do not harm anyone. That would mean “no crime”. It is presumptuous to label this as criminal. That doesn’t require me to be “in denial”. I see it as being clear-sighted and staying focused on what we know vs. what we are led to imagine.

    It will be interesting to see what finally comes out.

  • http:// Terry

    Some interesting commentary in this Slate article posted on Friday.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Thanks for the link Terry.

    From a pro-life blogger:

    “Shvarts stated yesterday she wanted her project to spark ‘conversation and debate.’ The discourse it has indeed sparked has been helpful only to the pro-life side, however, I’m sure not what Shvarts intended. It is forcing pro-aborts to consider the humanity of the preborn and to remind them abortion is unpleasant for a reason.”

    I think my point has been made.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Oh, and thanks for the link to Fark Matthew. Sheer brilliance.

  • Larry Flischenbaurer

    My girlfriend is an artist. She is very tasteful in her expression, but as an outsider getting a close look at “the art world,” I am not surprised it has come to this. Most artists (in Chelsea anyhow) are narcisistic, and since they cannot rely on their craft to gain notoriety, they see how they can expand art expression so they have a place in the oh so coveted “art world.”

  • Ras Judah

    All abortion is self-mutilation as well as the mutilation of another innnocent life. No one has the right to do anything they want with their own body. I do not have the right to use my body to steal, murder, or enslave. Slavery used to be legal in this country, but that did not make it right. But a society that worships death (war, capital punishment, and abortion) will inevitably produce this type of insane and demonic bahavior done in the name of “art.”

  • Rebecca

    Next time, please use more than two paragraph breaks in a near 600-word rant.