Aliza Shvarts: How does it feel to be a fiction? New Haven Virus

Presented by Nasty Women CT

In her book Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine explores the implicit and explicit racisms of everyday American life which render some citizens politically invisible. Her book asks us to think about who is able to speak, act, and live in the 21st century US—and whose speech, actions, and life appear as something less than real, as “mere fictions” to the state.

This public artwork, How does it feel to be a fiction? New Haven Virus by Aliza Shvarts, explores the consequences of living as a “fiction” to power, to history, and to each other. Because digital spaces are the new civic spaces (increasingly, we share ideas, argue, and encounter each other not in the town square, but online), this work entails three interrelated components: a digital performance which unfolds through email; a physical structure on the New Haven green; and an interactive installation which will be installed throughout the city.

How does it feel to be a fiction? was originally commissioned by Recess (NYC) after the 2016 presidential elections as part of a project exploring the role of “fake news.” Since then, there have been several different iterations of the work. For each iteration, Aliza Shvarts write a new text based on the context of the hosting institution, which is disseminated as part of the digital performance. She also creates a new installation to accompany the work. For How does it feel to be a fiction? New Haven Virus, which is the third iteration of this piece, the text will address the fiction of national belonging. 

To participate in the digital performance, visit:

To participate in the public event on the Green, please meet at the WWI Memorial Flagpole at 12:30pm on June 16th. The event will last approximately an hour.



About Nasty Women CT

Nasty Women Connecticut (NWCT) started as a branch of the global art movement to organize a Nasty Women exhibition in the first days of Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s term in office.  The organizers invited artists, activists, scholars, creative thinkers and anyone who identifies as a “nasty woman” or a “nasty woman ally” to submit a visual or performative work to the show. Since the first series of exhibitions, Nasty Women CT has continued to grow in building its mission, task force, network, and, reach throughout the community of New Haven and throughout Connecticut.

Aliza Shvarts

Aliza Shvarts is an artist, writer, and scholar whose work deals broadly with queer and feminist understandings of reproductive labor and temporality. She holds a BA from Yale University, where her senior thesis for the art major—Untitled [Senior Thesis] (2008)—became the subject of international debate insofar as it dealt with questions of abortion.  Since then, Shvarts has continued to investigate the body as a site of artistic, ideological, and discursive production. 

Shvarts’ artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally.  She has presented work and performed at MoMA PS1, Abrons Art Center, Lévy Gorvy, and Matthew Gallery in New York; Slought Foundation in Philadelphia; the Tate Modern in London; Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin; the LOOP International Film Festival in Barcelona, among other venues.  She is a regular collaborator with performance artists Carmelita Tropicana and Vaginal Davis, filmmaker Ela Troyano, and Critical Practices Inc.  Aliza currently has a solo exhibition Off Scene at Artspace (New Haven, CT) that looks back on the past ten years of her practice. The exhibition will be on view now through June 30.

Shvarts’ writing has appeared in TDR: The Drama Review, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, The Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader (2013), SALT Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, as well as several catalogues.  She has delivered papers and guest lectures 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 has written liner notes for the drone metal band SunnO))) and appeared as a guest commentator on MTV.

Shvarts was a 2014 recipient of the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, a 2014-2015 Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program, and a 2017 Critical Writing Fellow at Recess.  Currently, she is a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a Part-Time lecturer at The New School, and is completing a PhD in Performance Studies at New York University.

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