Yale Student’s Performance Art Ambiguity Covers Up Truth About Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 28, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Yale Student’s Performance Art Ambiguity Covers Up Truth About Abortion

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by Laura Echevarria
LifeNews.com Editorial Columnist
March 28
, 2008

LifeNews.com Note: Laura Echevarria is a LifeNews.com opinion columnist. She is the former Director of Media Relations and a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee and has been a radio announcer, freelance writer active in local politics.

Yale senior Aliza Shvarts set off a firestorm of controversy a couple of weeks ago with the announcement of her senior “art” project. According to the press release she sent out, the project consisted of menstrual blood collected over the course of nine months.

This blood was mixed with Vaseline to prevent it from drying out and then was spread onto plastic wrap. The plastic wrap was to be wrapped around a cube suspended from the ceiling.

It sounds gross, disgusting and bizarre and gets even more so.

The blood supposedly came from Shvarts’ self-induced “miscarriages.”

Projected onto the cube was to be video of Shvarts miscarrying while lying in her bathtub. These multiple pregnancies supposedly came after she repeatedly attempted to impregnate herself with donor sperm.

And the words gross, disgusting and bizarre don’t do justice to this “project.”

Yale and Shvarts then went on to confuse the press and the rest of us by claiming that the project was fake (Yale) and that it was real (Shvarts). Shvarts added that she never took a pregnancy test so she never knew if she was truly pregnant or not.

Shvarts, in the traditional-old-school-feminist and all-things-are-relative school of thought, claimed that when the project would be seen, viewers would identify the source of the blood based on what they perceived to be the truth.

Well, duh.

We all see things with predetermined truths and perceptions in place. Police officers can have five witnesses to a crime and get five different descriptions of what happened because of perception.

The problem with Shvarts’ project is that, between Yale’s and Shvarts’ explanations, the truth was lost and one wonders whether Shvarts lied, told half-truths or if she really told the truth and potentially injured herself for the sake of “art.”

I really, really hope that for Shvarts’ sake that this was just a stunt.

The Yale Daily News also reported that because Yale could not determine the truth the University refused to allow Shvarts to display the project. As of May 1, Yale Daily News reported that Shvarts offered an alternative project to display.

But this still leaves open the question of whether she really did attempt to impregnate herself and then, as she claimed, take herbs to induce miscarriages on the 28th day of her cycle.

As Yale Daily News noted, “. . .[T]he matter of whether Shvarts’ project actually entailed nine months of self-inseminations and repeated miscarriages, as Shvarts claimed, or was merely ill-conceived performance art, as the University said, remains unresolved.”

This ambiguity was Shvarts’ goal. Because of the circumstances surrounding the project and her subsequent decision to counter Yale’s assertions that the project was faked, she certainly achieved it.

Shvarts’ project was gruesome, crass and in bad taste. For many women who have miscarried, the whole concept is offensive as it would be to the innumerable women who live with the regret of abortion.

But the bigger and more overwhelming concern is Shvarts’ mental and physical health both now and in the future—and because we cannot discern the truth that remains in question as well.