Law & Order: SVA

Murder at the School of Visual Arts

Voiceover: In the criminal justice system, artistically motivated offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated designers and artists who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite institution known as the School of Visual Arts. These are their stories.

[Exterior. Night.] 

Walking back from a party, two drunken undergrads stumble across the pale, lifeless body of a beautiful model named Daphne from their Figure Drawing class. Arms and legs akimbo, the victim is splayed and sprayed across the courtyard like one of Keith Haring’s graffiti-inspired murals. The bloodstains, however, are derivative of Pollack. 

Undergrad: “Well, she finally held her pose.”

[Blackout. Sound of paint dripping…or is it blood?]


[Exterior. Early morning.]

A professor stands over the corpse in the courtyard, as a student traces the outline with chalk. 

Professor: “Judging by the body’s composition, ahem decomposition, we’re looking at a homicide. Most likely the handiwork of a desperate artist.”

The student falters with her chalk. Professor, reassuring her: “There, there. It’s all right. Just think of it as another still life.” 

A young man donning a beret enters, carrying a large blank canvas. “Did someone call for a stretcher?”

[Blackout. Dripping sound.]


[Interior. Studio.]

A grad student with a mustache to rival Dalí’s stands before an easel covered in cloth. “I was commissioned to create a composite portrait of the killer based on descriptions from several eye-witnesses. But my impulses led me in a different direction.” Unveiling the picture, “Voila! I call it ‘Exquisite Corpse.’”

The crowd of student and faculty investigators nods and murmurs in approval.

Classmate: “As a work of Postmodern Surrealism, it’s magnificent. Unfortunately, we’re no closer to finding the murderer.”

Professor: “Let’s not be too critical. It’s all about the journey.”

[Blackout. Dripping sound.]


[Interior. Darkroom.]

Professor: “Did you pick up any clues from the crime scene?”

Photography student: “I did. Here’s an enlargement of the bloody footprint I found next to the body. Maybe you can make something of it. All I see are dots.”

Professor, frowning: “I was never a fan of Seurat.”

[Blackout. Dripping sound.]


[Interior. Studio, later that day.]

A bearded and bespectacled student gestures toward a large bulletin board hanging on the wall. The cork is covered with scraps of paper, photographs of the victim, and fabric swatches connected via zig-zagging string. “I went back to the drawing board. As you can see, I’ve taken a few liberties with the thumbtacks.”

Professor: “Your collage technique is superb. Reminiscent of early Matisse cut-outs, with the childlike whimsy of Eric Carle. ”

Student: “That’s exactly what I was going for!”

[Blackout. Dripping sound.]


[Interior. Professor’s office.]

Just when the case has run cold, the professor receives a mysterious handwritten confession—along with a severed ear. (Papier-mâché, but still.) SVA’s resident calligraphy expert is called in to examine the letter. 

Expert: “I’d say our culprit is that pretentious grad student with the handlebar mustache.”

Professor: “How can you be so sure?”

Expert: “He’s an artist: he signed it.”

[Blackout. Dripping sound.]


[Interior. Residence hall.]

Accompanied by the professor, a jewelry design student gently opens the door to the killer’s dorm room, so as not to damage the woodwork, and pulls out a pair of artisanal handcuffs. “Careful. They’re for my final thesis, ‘Accessorizing the Patriarchy.’”

[Blackout. Dripping sound.] 


[Interior. Police HQ.]

The killer is escorted to the local precinct where two officers, both SVA alumni, take his mugshot and fingerprints. 

Killer: “Excellent technique.”

Alumni: “We learned from the best! Oh, and you have the right to remain silent.” 

[Blackout. Dripping sound.]


[Interior. Courtroom]

As the prosecution’s first witness is about to take the stand, Daphne the model, who is very much alive, bursts into the room and announces: “You’ve been pranked, Banksy style!”

Defendant: “We hope you enjoyed our performance piece, ‘Body of Work,’ a multidisciplinary commentary on the fetishization of violence against women in media.”

Professor: “But the blood stains! It was all so real!”

Daphne: “Campbell’s tomato soup.”

[Blackout. Roll credits.]

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