UC San Diego: It Depends On What The Definition Of “Nude” Is
[guest post by Dana]
Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self :
Using autobiography, dream, confession, fantasy, or other means to invent one’s self in a new way, or to evoke the variety of selves in our imagination, the course experiments with and explores the rich possibilities available to the contemporary artist in his or her own persona
After a parent complained that her daughter was forced to take her class final in the nude or risk not passing, UC San Diego Associate Professor Ricardo Dominguez confirmed that students in his Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self class are indeed required to take the final in the nude in order to receive a passing grade.
In describing the class, Dominguez said, “The class focuses on the history of body art and performance art in relation to the question of the self or subjectivity.”
Explaining the lead-up to the final:
“At the very end of the class, we’ve done several gestures, they have to nude gesture. The prompt is to speak about or do a gesture or create an installation that says, ‘what is more you than you are.'”
He said that 20 students strip down, including him. He calls it a performance of self, in a dark room lit only by candlelight.
“It’s a standard canvas for performance art and body art,” Dominguez said.
Additionally, Dominguez offers this reassurance:
“It is very all [sic] controlled.”
Well, thank God for that, right?
Dominguez gives students who are uncomfortable stripping down the option to be either figuratively or emotionally naked.
And in 11 years of teaching the class, he claims to have never had a complaint and that students know what to expect when they sign up for the class.
In response to media attention, Chair of the Visual Arts Department, Dr. Jordan Crandall released the following statement to media:
“The concerns of our students are our department’s first priority, and I’d like to offer some contextual information that will help answer questions regarding the pedagogy of VIS 104A.
“Removing your clothes is not required in this class. The course is not required for graduation.
“VIS 104A is an upper division class that Professor Dominguez has taught for 11 years. It has a number of prompts for short performances called “gestures.” These include “Your Life: With 3 Objects and 3 Sounds” and “Confessional Self,” among others. Students are graded on the “Nude/Naked Self” gesture just like all the other gestures. Students are aware from the start of the class that it is a requirement, and that they can do the gesture in any number of ways without actually having to remove their clothes. Dominguez explains this – as does our advising team if concerns are raised with them. There are many ways to perform nudity or nakedness, summoning art history conventions of the nude or laying bare of one’s “traumatic” or most fragile and vulnerable self. One can “be” nude while being covered.
“There are many comments from former students that are visible online. These comments clarify the matter quite directly. It is important to listen to students who have actually taken the class. Again, the concerns of our students are our department’s first priority.”
UCSD yearly tuition: $31,000. That’s a heck of a lot of money for parents to pay to give some pervy professor the opportunity to see their young daughters (and sons) in the nude.