To the Editor:
Beginning Tuesday, April 22, Yale College senior Aliza Shvarts will open her senior art project for an exhibition. The project is self-billed as one which “lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be.” I will not attend, and I hope no one does. It is not art.
For nine months, Shvarts has been artificially inseminating herself “as often as possible” and inducing miscarriages with abortifacient drugs in order to collect the discharge as a medium for her senior not-art show. Apparently, she hopes her project will resist commodification and thrive as “a medium for politics and ideologies.” But this is no ice-breaker; it’s a deal breaker. The discussion never had a chance. I am “pro-choice,” and I’m excluded from Shvarts’ table.
Shvarts has valued the quest to define “art” higher than she has valued human life itself. In so doing, she has contributed a precise example of what art cannot be.
I am no art critic, but I think most critics will agree that art is active. Whether or not this not-art is functioning properly, I am not qualified to judge. But I believe there is a more fundamental criterion: Art is the creative enterprise of humanity. Shvarts’ project is certainly creative. But it is not human. The effort is so detached from an authentically human experience of abortion that it cannot be considered art at all.
Yale University is too great an institution to forget its role as a driving force in the improvement of humanity. What has occurred betrays this endeavor, and University administration must retain the good sense necessary to recognize when art and education have gone terribly awry.
In my opinion, Shvarts should fail this assignment.
Joshua Ashton Hille
The writer is a student at the Yale Divinity School.