This month, Marni Kotak, a Brooklyn artist, will give birth at the Microscope Gallery in a controversial exhibit. She plans to deliver her baby in front of a crowd of people as a piece of performance art. The 36-year-old performance artist has created her very own ocean themed, home-birth center in the gallery. She decorated the space with family pictures, personalized photo-imprinted pillows, and an inflatable birthing pool—she even included an air mattress for her midwife. Sounds of the ocean are to play in the background on the big day.
Not surprisingly, the exhibit, titled The Birth of Baby X, has lit up the web this month. It has many people baffled, concerned, and outraged. Many critics say she’s “exploiting” her baby and that she’s “a narcissist” for attempting such an event. She’s even been accused of child abuse.
By combining the birth of her child with artistic expression, Kotak says she wants to show “this amazing life performance that… is essentially hidden from public view.” She wants to addresses social taboos regarding the human body.
Kotak also says she doesn’t want her audience to be total strangers. As part of the project, The Brooklyn gallery has extended its hours so that Kotak can develop a relationship with the people who want to come see the birth. From the group of people she meets, Kotak will select 15 people to be in the audience on the big day. She says:
“I’m developing an authentic relationship with these people…For me, it’s like building a community of people who are really interested in this.”
As for what she will tell her child someday, Kotak says:
“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,” Kotak said.
What do you think: Should child birth be considered art? Would you go see the exhibition?