A “senior art project” publicized by a student at Yale that drew horrified reaction across the blogosphere this week is being called “creative fiction” by school officials, but the “artist” says that’s not accurate.
The art major, Aliza Shvarts, told the Yale Daily News earlier this week she wanted to “make a statement” with a “project” including the blood from her own forced miscarriages. The immediate response ranged from horror and disgust to suggestions it was a fraud.
Yale officials declined to respond to a telephone request from WND for comment but later posted a website statement alleging the claim was fraudulent.
“Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art,” said the statement attributed to Helaine S. Klasky, a spokeswoman for the school. “Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body. She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art. Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.”
Not so fast, Shvarts told the Yale student newspaper.
The university statement is “ultimately inaccurate,” she told the paper, which said she told of “repeatedly using a needleless syringe” to insert semen and taking abortifacient herbs to induce bleeding.
“She said she does not know whether or not she was ever pregnant,” the newspaper said.
“No one can say with 100 percent certainly that anything in the piece did or did not happen,” Shvarts told the newspaper, “because the nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties.”
Shvarts said initially that she took a nine-month period of time during which she claimed to have artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking “abortifacient drugs.”
The student newspaper reported the student showed “footage from tapes she plans to play at the exhibit. The tapes depict Shvartz – sometimes naked, sometimes clothed – alone in a shower stall bleeding…”
The original student newspaper story reported Shvarts wanted to push art into being a medium of politics and ideologies. The newspaper said the display of Shvarts’ project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room.
“Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts’ self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting. Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room,” the report said.
David Codrea, a Second Amendment advocate who blogs at War on Guns, initially raised objections.
“One could make the argument that the exhibit legally should be classified as hazardous medical waste, and without proper handling, storage and spill clean-up/disposal procedures, with training for affected staff and employees, it poses a danger to the public and to all involved,” he wrote. “I wonder if Yale’s risk management department was consulted?”
He said he had e-mailed the Yale risk management office and others that the university’s own guidelines state: “programs implementing University policy have been established to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and meet regulatory requirements that are required by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.”
“For the record – has this event been approved … and have all appropriate regulatory conditions been documented as complaint?” he asked.
After the conflicting statements from Yale officials and the student were released, he raised the additional issue of academic fraud and lying.
“Disgusting,” he told Yale officials. “Regardless of what this young head case claims, how can you not think she ‘violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental … health concerns’?”
“And it looks like she’s betrayed you, too,” he said, citing the student’s own challenge to the Yale statement.
“So she lied to the paper to advance her project and/or she lied to ‘three senior Yale officials today…’ I thought Yale had a policy against academic fraud?” he continued.
“So when do the expulsion hearings being?” he asked.
“It’s clearly depraved. I think the poor woman has got some major mental problems,” Wanda Franz of the National Right to Life Committee told Fox News.
The initial report generated shock.
“First off, I’m a liberal. I frequent WND to keep tabs on how people who disagree with me think. But even I was shocked, appalled and disgusted by this,” wrote a WND reader.
Ironically, Yale was founded in the 1600s when colonial clergy led an effort to establish a school “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences [and] through the blessing of Almighty God maybe fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State.”
The suggestion of fraud was raised immediately by Yuval Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.
“Color me dubious about the Yale art project story. In talking to a few knowledgeable docs this morning, the facts don’t add up very well,” he wrote in National Review’s blog, “The Corner.” “Self-insemination of the sort she seems to be claiming is no easy feat, and ‘herbal’ abortifacients are extremely dangerous and not at all reliably effective. It’s highly unlikely that these two improbable elements would both be carried off successfully multiple times, and with no side effects. It’s more likely that her senior art project is to see how many people she can upset with a hoax.
“If it’s a hoax, it’s an abhorrent and disgusting one,” Levin said. “If it turns out to be true, it’s of course all the more so and far worse. Either way, where are the adults at Yale?”
Yale president Richard Levin declined to respond to WND’s request for a comment.
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