Public birth as art?
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Thread: Public birth as art?

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    Default Public birth as art?

    Performance artist who created birth-centre in NYC gallery gives birth to 'Baby X'

    Brooklyn-based performance artist Marni Kotak, who plans to give birth to her first child in front of a public audience at the Microscope Gallery in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, is shown leaning on a birthing pool at the gallery, which has been converted into a birthing room, in New York, Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. The birth will be assisted by a midwife. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


    NEW YORK, N.Y. - A performance artist who said giving birth is the "highest form of art" has delivered a baby boy — inside a New York City art gallery
    Marni Kotak gave birth at 10:17 a.m. on Tuesday, the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn said in a brief statement, adding that everyone was recuperating on Wednesday. It said the baby, named Ajax, was 21 inches (53 centimetres) long and weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces (4.57-kilograms).
    The gallery said 19 to 20 people were present for the relatively quick birth in a birthing pool. The gallery gave no other details. A video of the birth will be added to the gallery's upcoming exhibition.
    The 36-year-old artist had set up a home-birth centre at the gallery, turning the space into a brightly decorated bedroom with ocean blue walls and photo-imprinted pillows.
    During "The Birth of Baby X" durational piece, which began Oct. 8, Kotak spent as much time at the gallery as possible talking to visitors about motherhood, art and other issues. She said those who left their contact information would be notified when she went into labour.
    She expected about 15 people to attend.
    Kotak, who was born in Norwood, Massachusetts, said all her performances focus on everyday life experiences. She has been re-enacting events from her life for more than 10 years, including her own birth, losing her virginity in "a sunny blue Plymouth" and her grandfather's funeral.
    In combining the birth of her child with artistic expression, Kotak said she wanted to show "this amazing life performance that ... is essentially hidden from public view" and that addresses social taboos regarding the human body.
    "She's in the tradition of using your life as your authentic material and shaping and forming it" — a tradition that goes back to 1959 when filmmaker Stan Brakhage recorded the birth of his first child as a work of art, said feminist artist Carolee Schneemann, whose own works deal with taboo themes of sexuality.
    "She's vulnerable, she's exposed," she said of Kotak. "It's the most basic visceral experience that also has the most taboos."
    The entire gallery was given over to the installation. The artist even carved out space for a fully-stocked refrigerator and a portable shower with curtain pockets filled with photos from her three baby showers.
    Kotak said she and her husband will share the details of the birth with their child "over time as an organic process."
    "The overall message that we will communicate to the child is that he or she was born in an art gallery because, as artists, that is our sacred space, and in doing this we are telling the world and our child that his or her life is a precious work of art."
    This is reminiscent to me of the Feminist Breeder live blogging/streaming her babies recent birth, or the Canadian OB who recently live streamed her home birth. Is birthing live on the internet or in public spaces and/or making money off of your birth the new trend in birthing?

    Great idea? Her choice? Would you watch a stranger deliver her baby in an art gallery (or live online?). Does her profiting off of birth bother or rub you wrong in any way? If you grew up to hear that you were born on live TV or some such, would it bother you in any way?

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    Posting Addict RebeccaA'07's Avatar
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    I think it's her choice, I wouldn't give birth in public because I feel it's more of a personal and private event. If she feels differently and thinks that it's more of "art" or a learning experience, then that's her choice to have the birth that she wants. People don't have to go see it!

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    Sorry, forgot this bit.

    Raising Baby X: The First Year is the first year of an ongoing performance art project that re-contextualizes the everyday act of raising a child as a work of art. This project is the latest for Brooklyn-based performance artist Marni Kotak who creates multimedia works in which she presents her everyday life as art.

    It is a conceptual art project that is designed to help us think about and develop a greater respect for the intricacies of child rearing, as they are a deeply rich part of the lives of anyone who has children. A work in progress, the project aims to address various aspects of raising the child, such as food, education, clothing, the child's room, healthcare, playtime, travel, safety, discipline, entertainment, and simply loving the child. In addition, Kotak will write and publish an anthology of memoirs about her experiences with motherhood, containing journal entries, photo documentation, and discourse on current social issues relevant to her project and facing all mothers today, such as whether or not to vaccinate a child, how to support your child's education, school nutrition, the influence of the media, and how to balance work and family life.



    Installation shot of Kotak's "I have to get on with my life..." exhibition at Alice Chilton Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (January 2011). Image on bedspread is Kotak as a baby in the ocean for the first time.

    For The First Year Kotak will present the performance of raising her child through videos that document various activities that took place that week, such as breastfeeding, diaper changing, bedtime stories, playtime, sleep, and nursing minor ailments. At the end of the year, Kotak will hold an exhibition where she re-creates the baby's bedroom in an art gallery and as in her recent exhibition "I have to get on with my life..." at Alice Chilton Gallery, fuses photo and video documentation of that year's every day life performances with household items such as pillows, blankets, rugs, wallpaper, clothing, artwork, toys, and other memorabilia. During the exhibit, Kotak will hold the child's first birthday party and publish and sell the first book in her series of memoirs.
    Sorry, forgot this. The birth is phase one of capitalizing on baby. This is a planned "performance" of mothering culminating in annual exhibits, videos and books about "Baby X) (who we now know is son, Ajax, after his public birth).

    Does her plans to sell her motherhood experience in a very overt and calculated way change or influence your feelings on her/this at all?

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    I think it's insanely narcissistic. Why not also document her daily life without the kid? Here she is taking a crap, making a meal, etc.

    Honestly, this is just life for lots & lots of people, I don't get what is unique or especially artistic about this one person. I hope I never meet her.
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    Super Poster b525's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    I think it's insanely narcissistic. Why not also document her daily life without the kid? Here she is taking a crap, making a meal, etc.

    Honestly, this is just life for lots & lots of people, I don't get what is unique or especially artistic about this one person. I hope I never meet her.
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    I think it's insanely narcissistic. Why not also document her daily life without the kid? Here she is taking a crap, making a meal, etc.

    Honestly, this is just life for lots & lots of people, I don't get what is unique or especially artistic about this one person. I hope I never meet her.
    I agree, my stomach turned for this baby while reading this. I believe that newborns/babies are as entitled to some modicum of privacy just like the rest of us. Wasn't there some Jim Carey movie like this, where the kid grew up on TV or something?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Potter75 View Post
    I agree, my stomach turned for this baby while reading this. I believe that newborns/babies are as entitled to some modicum of privacy just like the rest of us. Wasn't there some Jim Carey movie like this, where the kid grew up on TV or something?
    Yes! I was just thinking about that. I hated that movie because I kept thinking how cruel a life that would be...

    ETA It was called The Truman Show... I had to wiki it, I hate it when I can't remember stuff like that

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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    I think it's insanely narcissistic. Why not also document her daily life without the kid? Here she is taking a crap, making a meal, etc.

    Honestly, this is just life for lots & lots of people, I don't get what is unique or especially artistic about this one person. I hope I never meet her.
    Yep. A huge portion of society does it every day. I can't see how she would think people would want to watch her raise her kid. Poor little thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Potter75 View Post
    Sorry, forgot this bit.

    Does her plans to sell her motherhood experience in a very overt and calculated way change or influence your feelings on her/this at all?
    Not for me as long as it isn't sensationalized or put out of normal parameters. I love the movie Babies that followed 4 children around the world through their 1st year of life. It was an artsy movie and I'm not sure how different this would be.

    Also, I think the intent is to capture the beauty of creating life, nuturing life and the human experience.
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    Prolific Poster ftmom's Avatar
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    I have to add a voice of dissension and say that I think this is beautiful. I am not too hot on the live birth, but I think doing the first year of babies life as a living art exhibit is wonderful. Sure millions of people live this everyday, but how many of us actually stop and look at it. Look at the everyday things we do as wonderful and beautiful. See our child in there whole innocent beauty. And people who dont have children dont even have the opportunity to see a baby this way, so I think it is wonderful to make it public.

    So to recap. I would not want to see the birth, but might have stopped by beforehand to see the exhibit. And if it was possible I would definitely go see the first year exhibit.

    Having said all that, I would not support going much further than babies first year, as I feel that during that first year baby doesnt care who else is around, as long as mom is, after that it feels more exploitative and intrusive to me.
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