With Shvarts silent, project will not go up

As Aliza Shvarts ’08 maintained her silence Monday, the University kept its promise to forbid the Davenport College senior from installing her controversial senior art project in a public exhibit planned to go on display today.

On Sunday, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said Shvarts would not be allowed to open her exhibit unless she issued a written statement admitting that her project — which she claimed comprised nine months of self-inseminations and subsequent induced miscarriages — was nothing more than a creative fiction. Since no resolution was reached on Monday, Shvarts’s project will not be on display when the Undergraduate Art Senior Project Show opens for public viewing this morning. Whether it will eventually be installed remains uncertain.

“A determination has not yet been made,” Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky wrote in an e-mail Monday night.

She did not comment further.

Shvarts has not spoken publicly since Friday, when she defended her art project in an interview with the News and in an op-ed piece published in the newspaper. She did not return telephone messages over the weekend and remained silent Monday as time ticked away bef re today’s scheduled opening.

Since then, the University has disciplined two faculty members — the adviser, School of Art lecturer Pia Lindman, and one other — who knew of Shvarts’s project, which drew ire on campus and across the country last week when she first revealed its details. Yale officials have maintained that her project was an example of “performance art,” terming it a “creative fiction.”

In her public comments last week, Shvarts rebutted that assessment, calling it “ultimately inaccurate” and gave no indication that she planned to capitulate.

“I started out with the University on board with what I was doing, and because of the media frenzy they’ve been trying to dissociate with me,” she said Friday. “Ultimately, I want to get back to a point where they renew their support, because ultimately this was something they supported.”

Whether or not Shvarts’s project is displayed, the Undergraduate Art Senior Project Show is scheduled to run from April 22 to May 1 in Green Hall on Chapel Street. The show will be open to the public at 10 a.m. today, according to the Web site of the School of Art, with a formal reception for the exhibit scheduled for Friday night.

In interviews last week, Shvarts said her project would take the shape of a four-foot-wide cube to be suspended from the ceiling of a gallery in Green Hall. The cube would be wrapped with hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting, lined with blood she claimed to have collected and preserved over her nine months of self-induced miscarriages.

Meanwhile, video recordings of her purported miscarriages would be projected onto the sides of the cube, Shvarts said.

Shvarts said last week that she did not plan to seek an alternative venue for the exhibition if the University forbade her from showing it at Green Hall. In his statement Sunday night, Salovey outlined three conditions for allowing Shvarts to display her work:

¶ She submits a “clear and unambiguous written statement” admitting her project is a “work of fiction,” as Salovey put it.

¶ She admits she did not try to inseminate herself or produce miscarriages.

¶ She promises that no human blood will be displayed in her exhibit.

Whether or not Shvarts will comply with those terms is unclear, but a swarm of media is expected to gather outside Green Hall this morning for the exhibition’s scheduled opening.

The timing could not be worse: Today is the second day of the annual Bulldog Days, a three-day event for which admitted students are invited to visit campus and imbibe the Yale experience. Today also marks the beginning of the annual summit for the International Alliance of Research Universities, a consortium of ten leading research universities, including Yale, whose presidents are scheduled to converge on campus today for two days of meetings.

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