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 display of Schvarts’ project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. 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.
I think I can safely say that this is one of the most disturbing and stomach-churning things I’ve read about in a long time. I find myself saddened and sickened, not just by the loss of life, and the awful trivialization of sex and conception, but also by Shvarts’ attempt to find nobility in her actions. Sidestepping entirely the moral and ethical concerns — which are there, regardless of where you stand on the issue — in order to create a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be while not scandalizing anyone, strikes me as horribly naïve, at best.
When I was in college, UNL’s Sigma Chi fraternity was busted for dressing up in Confederate uniforms and burning a cross at one of their gatherings. They were surprised at the community outcry after the event, as if it hadn’t even crossed their minds that a burning cross could have any negative implications whatsoever. It was a shameful display of ignorance and naïveté, and I see the same ignorance and naïveté in Shvarts’ actions.
In this day and age, when abortion is such a hot issue — and has been one for decades — you can claim all you want that getting yourself pregnant and forcing yourself to have miscarriages in your bathtub, which you then videotape for public broadcast, is not intended to cause outrage. But at some point, your intentions, however innocuous they might have been, are rendered moot by the sheer stupidity and wickedness of your actions.
When I think of the lives that were squandered on this project, it makes me want to throw up. I think of all of the friends and family members I know who want children so desperately, and who have been trying for so long to get pregnant, and have had to suffer through non-planned miscarriages — and then I think of the lives that Schvarts, for all intents and purposes, flushed down the toilet in the name of “art”, and I can barely fathom the shamefulness of it all.
Lord have mercy.