18 April 2008

Can You Spell 'Reaction'?

The initial report from the Yale Daily is here. The revelation is:
Arts, Briefly
Art Revealed as Fiction at Yale

Published: April 18, 2008
A Yale art student who claimed that she had repeatedly inseminated herself and then induced miscarriages as a performance-art project, igniting a firestorm of criticism on the campus and on the Web, told university officials on Thursday that she had lied about the claims and that the story itself was the art project.

The Yale Daily News reported Thursday that the student, Aliza Shvarts, said that she had inseminated herself “as often as possible” over a nine-month period using sperm from donors and later took herbal substances that are known to work as abortifacients. She told the newspaper that she made videos of herself experiencing her miscarriages and planned to show them at an exhibition of student art projects next week, along with her own blood.

But Helaine S. Klasky, a Yale spokeswoman, issued a statement from the university Thursday afternoon, saying: “Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. 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,” the statement added: “Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.”

I read the initial story and subsequent firestorm in the press and various blogs yesterday. I suspected (hoped?) the story couldn't be true. It wasn't. Good. The interesting things is the level of indignation, outrage, and self-righteousness that come automatically. Push the button and it spews forth. No reflection. No patience or pause. No questioning ~ let alone of ourselves. Our public culture is dessicated. All we do is react, shrilly. Ms. Shvarts gets an 'A' for revealing that with perfect clarity.


Blogger Stan B. said...

My first, OK, my second thought was about the academic in charge who reviewed and approved her project...

18 April, 2008 09:58  
Blogger Joerg said...

The project holds way less water than you think it does. The point for me is not that so many people got really angry, but rather, that so many people didn't consider it to be a joke. After all, it could easily have been true.

This in a time where the only reason we know why the headlines printed in "The Onion" are not true is because they're in "The Onion".

The fact that the President just openly endorsed torture, yet people debate about the lapel flag pin of a presidential candidate provides the background for this.

18 April, 2008 09:58  

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