exhibition: 16.7. - 15.9. 2019
Curator: Laurel Ptak
Purported presents the work of New York-based conceptual artist and theorist Aliza Shvarts (b. 1986) at the Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA in Prague. Her performance, video, installation and text-based practice explores reproductive labor and its biological and societal maintenance through queer and feminist understandings. Read against the current climate of renewed anti-abortion laws and activism against sexual violence, the exhibition brings together over a decade of Shvarts’ work that has complexly questioned the interrelated dynamics of gender, sexuality, consent and power as they play out inside contemporary culture. Her work famously drew widespread attention as an undergraduate student in 2008 when her Untitled [Senior Thesis], consisting of a yearlong performance of self-induced miscarriages, was declared a fiction by Yale University and banned from public exhibition. This unfinished work marks areas of inquiry she has continued to explore: how the body means and matters and how the subject consents and dissents.
One of the most important American feminist artists of her generation, this is Shvarts’ first-ever international solo exhibition. Its presentation here is one way of responding to an ongoing and nuanced dialogue about feminism and its urgencies and meanings across contexts that I have been lucky to have with many brilliant colleagues in Prague over these past few years. It is also a means of contemplating feminism’s possible site-specificity and asking what we can be learned from each other? Are there productively different aesthetics, influences and concerns this subject matter takes up in its various contexts? Why, for instance, do conceptualism and institutional critique shine as artistic modes of addressing these ideas in one place, yet may not be an obvious means to discuss it elsewhere? Lastly, the exhibition is in dialogue with the broader and shifting context for equity and norms regarding gender and sexuality in many contexts as countries tighten abortion laws, repeal queer and trans rights, ban gender studies and more. It is work that has a lot to reveal to us at this moment about the ways such logic repeats systematically, throughout time, place and circumstance. Shvarts patiently shows us this pervasive bias through cultural, medical, political, legal and other frameworks, knowing we will most likely be told once again that what we are seeing is simply not there.
Aliza Shvarts: Purported is curated by Laurel Ptak and is a collaboration between FUTURA, Art in General and Publics & Counterpublics, as the first iteration of the ongoing project Choreopolitics that explores expanded notions of performance; attends to the body’s proximity to politics; and posits choreographies—real, speculative or imagined—as modes of resistance. Special thanks to the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Caroline Krzyszton, Lukáš Hofmann, Michal Landa, Yonatan Katzelnik, Ulrike Figueroa-Vilchis, Marina Ruojia Yang, Lilian Yeling Yang, Andrew Bernstein, Karina Kottová and Zuzana Jakalová.
Aliza Shvarts is an artist and writer who takes a queer and feminist approach to reproductive labor and language. Her recent work focuses on testimony and circulations of speech in the digital age. She received a BA from Yale University (2008) and is completing a PhD in Performance Studies at New York University (2019). She , was a 2014–15 Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program, a 2017 Critical Writing Fellow at Recess Art and is currently a 2019–20 A.I.R. Gallery Artist Fellow and a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art. and is completing a PhD in Performance Studies at New York University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Tate Modern in London; Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin; Athens Biennale in Greece; LOOP International Film Festival in Barcelona; Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Columbia; Universidad de Chile in Santiago; SculptureCenter, Participant Inc, Abrons Art Center, Lévy Gorvy, and Matthew Gallery in New York; the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia; and Artspace in New Haven, CT. Shvarts’ writing has been published in Whitechapel Documents in Contemporary Art: Practice, The Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader, TDR/The Drama Review, Women & Performance, and The Brooklyn Rail. She has taught at Barnard College, New York University, the Parsons School of Design, and the Pratt Institute and has given talks at a number of institutions, including The Whitney Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The 8th Floor/Rubin Foundation, Harvard University, McGill University, Stanford University, and UCLA. In addition, she wrote liner notes for the drone metal band SunnO))) and appeared as a guest commentator on MTV.