Category Archives: Arts

Hoax: Yale Artist Uses Induced Miscarriages as Art

Update: Yup – as expected – this is a hoax.

But she says she’s not doing it for shock value:

Yale art major Aliza Shvarts has repeatedly inseminated her self and then used abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. She is displaying the results in video and preserved blood.

The display of Schvarts’ project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts’ self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

She wants to have it both ways:

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for “shock value.”

[S]he said she believes it is the nature of her piece to “provoke inquiry.”

Inquiry into what exactly? (Usual answer: ‘I don’t comment on my work – it stands on its own.’ = I like to be general dickwad to my audience.) That she’s parading her gross-out bloodfeast as some sort of academic project? Can artists just admit they like to push buttons? That is one of the best parts about being an artist. Not because you want your art to change the world – but because you want to provoke a reaction – and that usually includes shock value. SAME THING. At the same time, don’t pretend that your shocking art is some sort of service. There’s enough shocking bullshit happening around us every day without you framing the destruction of your reproductive system as some sort of public service.

Best comment from Gawker:

Now there is a suitemate from hell. I can just see the passive aggressive notes. SOMEONE needs to start CLEANING up after their MISCARRIAGES in the bathtub because OTHER PEOPLE USE THE BATHTUB AND DO NOT WANT TO RINSE VISCERA OFF OF THEIR FEET ALL THE TIME. Thank you!!!

‘You Will Not Touch Him/This is The Hour’ from Miss Saigon

Kim (Lea Salonga) reveals her son, fathered by an American GI, to her betrothed cousin, Thuy. As violence erupts indoors, Saigon falls and a parade honoring Ho Chi Minh runs through the streets. I could probably watch this every day and still have the same breathless reaction to it. When I talk about how I like plays/blogs about the intersection of history and biography – the personal and political – this scene illustrates that perfectly.

1 in 4 US Adults Didn’t Read a Book Last Year

From CNN:

The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven. When the Gallup poll asked in 2005 how many books people had at least started — a similar but not directly comparable question — the typical answer was five. That was down from 10 in 1999, but close to the 1990 response of six. People from the South read a bit more than those from other regions, mostly religious books and romance novels. Whites read more than blacks and Hispanics, and those who said they never attend religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attend frequently. Those likeliest to read religious books included older and married women, lower earners, minorities, lesser educated people, Southerners, rural residents, Republicans and conservatives.

Research at Penn State: Are artists born or taught?

Artists are both born and taught, says Nancy Locke, associate professor of art history at Penn State. “There is no question in my mind that artists are born,” says Locke. Many artists arrive in the world brimming with passion and natural creativity and become artists after trying other vocations.” Artists are also made, she says. They require training, education and a culture of other artists, often an urban culture, says Locke. “Put an artist in isolation and nobody can learn anything from the work.” A craftsman masters a skill, but an artist ventures beyond to innovate. “Artists have to be in touch with other artists, building on what other artists have done,” says Locke. Artists must learn a tradition to challenge it, so artists are products of their times and context, both artistic and social, she adds. Like natural talent, the vision is innate. Yet the way that vision comes to fruition depends upon the artist’s time and place, the surrounding artistic tradition, training and life experience. (via)

Arthur Miller Hid Down-Syndrome Son from the World

Vanity Fair:

He did not mention him once in the scores of speeches and press interviews he gave over the years. He also never referred to him in his 1987 memoir, Timebends. In 2002, Daniel was left out of the New York Times obituary for Miller’s wife, the photographer Inge Morath, who was Daniel’s mother. A brief account of his birth appeared in a 2003 biography of Miller by the theater critic Martin Gottfried. But even then Miller maintained his silence. Miller’s friends say they never understood exactly what happened with Daniel, but the few details they heard were disturbing. Miller had not only erased his son from the public record; he had also cut him out of his private life, institutionalizing him at birth, refusing to see him or speak about him, virtually abandoning him. The whole matter was “absolutely appalling,” says one of Miller’s friends, and yet everyone probably would have kept silent had it not been for the rumor that began to spread earlier this year, passing from Roxbury to New York City and back.

Book Banned Over Use of the Word ‘Scrotum’

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any stupider:

…”The Higher Power of Lucky,” by Susan Patron, this year’s winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature. The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum. “Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book continues. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.” The book has already been banned in some places.

I’d be more concerned that Lucky Trimble the orphan is not only eavesdropping but listening through a gloryhole.

We are Americans. And we are deathly afraid of our own bodies.

Judy Garland’s Scary Little Christmas

I’m no friend of Dorothy or brother of Judy or whatever the hell – I see Judy Garland more as a pill-popping charwoman than someone whose complete emotional and substance-drenched breakdown needs to be iconified, codified and membranced. But you know me: I have little pity for addicts. Sure she was talented – but isn’t it harder to be succesful and not have a chemical crutch?

But that didn’t stop me from enjoying Hell in a Handbag’s lastest production of Judy’s Scary Little Christmas.

Cut to 1959 where Garland stumbles out on live television for a holiday special featuring many of her favorite entertainers including Bing Crosby, Liberace, Ethel Merman, Lillian Hellman and even Joan Crawford. And I have to say that I have now seen David Cerda play Joan Crawford three times – twice this year! I’m not a huge Joan-head (after being traumatized by the beatings-and-cleanings scene of Mommie Dearest  – that was the year we had cable TV and Heather and I memorized Poltergeist) but Cerda grabbed the usual laughs with his portrayal of the sagging starlet (complete with a menacing fist raised at the TV camera for her kiddies back home).

My darling Brigitte (who I trained with in acting school and have know now for 12 years – holy crap) played tortured woman of letters Lillian Hellman with complete fabulosity. I always love seeing her onstage and Ron and I squeezed hands in excitement as Hellman waxed poetic on socialism and other niceities that got her career ruined during the Red Scare). She even did a duet with up-and-coming Vice President Richard Milhouse Nixon (Michael S. Miller) as well. I will always love seeing Brigitte onstage simply because she is such a wonderful performer and she is just so damned fantastic in everything. I almost threw my panties at her.

The play ambles with good holiday cheer and Jennifer Connelly does a fantastic impression as Judy (I remember her singing Judy-songs during the Poseidon musical cabaret evenings at Gentry) and her gaggle of chorus boys do their best to frame Judy in the best tableau possible (courtesy of Brigitte who also did the choreography).

A surprise guest played by Handbag favorite Ed Jones throws Judy a curve and gives us the expected Christmas-meaning chatharsis that every holiday play must provide.

Tim Howard directed great in a space that I’ve produced in before – Strawdog Theatre. It is a small space with massive pillars that make everything played one of two angles to the audience seating. His husband (the other Tim) provided the scene design.

I bet this was a tough play because the second half of the second act is a long goodbye. And long goodbyes can be interminable (why I always skip the last half hour of Return of the King).  It is also why most Shakespeare plays should be ended as quickly as they can after the last major character’s death.

Derek Czaplewski did great as Bing Crosby, mimicking the liquor-smooth baritone of Mr. White Christmas. Brannen Daugherty stole moment after moment as a fame-whoring Liberace always mugging for the camera and making oh-so-slightly inappropriate jokes (with a horny sailor waiting in the wings for a midnight ‘dinner with mother). Trista Smith (last seen as Carrie White’s butched-up gym teacher) went full-on-belt as Ethel Merman (though her wig seemed more Phyllis Diller to me).

Ron and I had attempted the show on Thursday – even trudged through the snow to get there – only to find the show had been cancelled. Our walk last night was much easier due to plowing and we ended up having dinner at Ecce on Thursday (where I had two panic attacks due to claustrophobic seating conditions) and then last night we ordered Ping Pong on the way out of the theatre which was ready by the time we walked by the restaurant. 

One thing that is weird about the show is I had a hard time hearing some of the actors. There was an air handler on for much of the first act (I think maybe a cooling system for the light dimmer?). It is strange to be in a space that small and not hear every single word. But I’ve alway been a bastard for that anyway.