Associate professor Ricardo Dominguez has been teaching the class, “Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self,” for 11 years.
“At the very end of the class, we’ve done several gestures, they have to nude gesture,” Dominguez told ABC10 Friday. “The prompt is to speak about or do a gesture or create an installation that says, ‘what is more you than you are.’ It’s a standard canvas for performance art and body art. It is very all controlled.”
He said that he and the students strip down in a dark room lit only by candlelight. He added that students are made aware of the expectations on the first day and should not enroll in the class if they are uncomfortable.
“There’s a perversion going on here,” one mother of a student in the class told ABC10. “The fact he is a professor and has control over these students, I think he’s taking it way too far.”
Dr. Jordan Crandall, chair of UCSD’s Visual Arts Department, released a statement Monday in defense of Dominguez and the class.
“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,” Crandall said in the statement.
“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.”
Crandall’s full statement on the matter:
“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 VIS104A. Removing your clothes is not required in the 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.”