A University of California San Diego professor has come under fire from parents after students taking “Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self” class were required to perform nude for their final exam.
Associate professor Ricardo Dominguez told ABC News 10 that he makes students aware of his expectations at the start of the semester.
A parent’s complaint about the final exam is the first time anyone’s had an issue in the 11 years he’s taught the “Performing the Self” class.
“Nothing was ever explained, nothing was ever stipulated prior to Thursday,” said a mother of a student who is in Dominguez’s class. “It bothers me, I’m not sending her to school for this. To blanket say you must be naked in order to pass my class, it makes me sick to my stomach.”
Dominguez defended himself saying:
“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.
“It is very all controlled,” he added.
Dominguez said that students know what to expect from the first day of class.
“If they are uncomfortable with this gesture they should not take the class,” Dominguez said bluntly.
UCSD is standing by Dominguez.
Dr. Jordan Crandall, the Chair of the Visual Arts Department, released the following statement:
“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.”
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