Yesterday the Yale Daily News reported that an undergraduate named Aliza Shvarts is using abortion as art:
“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 goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body.”
Naturally, the report drew outrage from all over the country. I had at least two or three people e-mail me to alert me to the story because they were upset about the news. Well, it turns out that the whole thing may have been a hoax. According to the Washington Post:
“In a statement yesterday, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said: ‘Ms. Shvarts . . . 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. Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.'”
The Post goes on to explain what the point of Shvarts’ exhibition was. According to a senior art major at Yale,
“It’s supposed to challenge the mythology of the body. Are we only supposed to do what our bodies were ‘naturally’ meant to do, which is to procreate? I think she was definitely trying to spark conversation. In that respect, she’s accomplished her goal.”
Actually, that’s a relevant philosophical question, and to some extent the “natural function” of the body underlies a Christian view of sexual and reproductive ethics (see Romans 1:26-27). But the art exhibit is so loathsome (even if it is a hoax) that it distracts from what might have been an important discussion. If the goal was to provoke conversation about the purpose of the body, I think she fell way short.