Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Shock Art"

By now, I am sure that all of you have heard about the controverisal Yale student's art project. (Almost as interesting as the questions posed by her actions are the media and blog variations on what actually happened.) Elizabeth Redden interviewed art professors from several universities on the subject in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and got some intelligent responses. Anyone who has ever taught art at a university has had to deal with these questions in a greater or lesser form, and the questions posed by the instructors in this article are the ones that I have always asked my students who are interested in doing work that might be questionable in intention or motivation.


OpenID sarahpetruz said...

From the Chicago Tribune:
Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, an anti-abortion group, said his anger was not mitigated by the fact that Shvarts may never have been pregnant. "I'm astounded by this woman's callousness," he said.

There is a line between "shock" art and a Mengele-ian disconnectedness between that which is "sacred" about creation and the human body.

I totally support the idea behind this student's work - it is quite a profound concept to identify ones' body as a functional, practical vessel.

However, as a professor, I would question the publicity and dramatic element that has been invoked by the student - granted it was not started by her, but to some degree she encouraged this attention by contradicting Yale and affirming that it is not a hoax. And, I believe that I would have pointed out to this student beforehand that this detachment falls firmly into the realm of a sociopath behavior.

And, I am angered that of all the thousands of meaningful works on gallery walls at this moment in the United States, this is what American's believe "art" has become. Shame on Yale for allowing this to perpetuate.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I have to agree with you: every time a controversial work gets publicity, it contributes to the distorted view that the general public has about contemporary art.

I also agree with you about the fact that it is a constant challenge to protect and encourage student risk-taking while being on the lookout for potentially dangerous behavior to self and others. I have sent several of my students to the student counseling center.

However much this student may have courted the publicity, I can't help but feel sorry for her at this moment, imagining the shitstorm she must be entrenched in. Most people cannot imagine the kind of threats she must be getting.

10:11 AM  

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