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.
— Laurel Ptak