Performance Artist to Give Live Birth in Gallery

the birth of baby x Performance Artist to Give Live Birth in Gallery

Courtesy of Microscope Gallery

Well, here’s a weird one. The pregnant performance artist Marni Kotak, who has done things like reenact the first time she had sex, will be giving birth inside of Bushwick’s Microscope Gallery for a piece titled, “The Birth of Baby X.”

Beginning tomorrow, Ms. Kotak will be living in the gallery as she waits for her contractions. The birth is expected to begin within the next five or six weeks. The Village Voice recently caught up with Ms. Kotak to ask her a few questions:

“VV: Can you explain how a performance art experience is different than, say, an onstage performance?

MK: A performance art experience is more real than an onstage performance if it possesses a raw immediacy that cannot be captured, and therefore cannot be acted out, as in a work of theater.”

Exactly! Like, uh, actually giving birth in front of a bunch of people.

“My focus will be on having my baby,” she told the Village Voice. “I know it will be challenging, but I think if people give birth in the completely inhospitable environment of hospitals, hooked up to IVs and monitors and strapped with stirrups into a bed, I can give birth in an art gallery.”

Ah, what better way to start life than in the warm and nurturing atmosphere of an art gallery? Luckily, Ms. Kotak will have a doula on hand–rather than an art handler–to see that the child’s birth is a healthy one.


  1. Anonymous says:

    And just last month we were reading this from that woman who got her privates tattooed by Damien Hirst for the cover of Garage magazine: “Not one single person can ever say they gave birth through a Damien Hirst piece of art. I can [if I ever give birth].” Birth through art, and now, birth as art. It’s kind of exciting that giving birth is becoming part of the whole art thing. As everyone knows, it’s been reported elsewhere recently that birth poses “tension” for certain galleries with large numbers of women on their staffs, what with these women giving birth all the time, and the whole maternity leave thing. What seems like an obvious solution based on this performance thing and the Hirst tattoo thing is to just incorporate birth into the whole art business. Galleries can have birthing wards that double as performance art theaters (this could be part of the solution to the nation’s health care crisis!), and isn’t it apparent that a whole obstetrical arm to art-making, or at the very least art-tattooing, is already in gestation? These are exhilarating times indeed, exhilarating times. For art. And birthing. If I can’t be there for this performance, I’ll expect to see it in reproduction.

  2. Hey, great pâté — I wonder what happened to the afterbirth.

  3. John Williams says:

    Sarah, your solution could be even more wide-ranging: Why not raise one’s child in an art gallery? Cuts down on the cost of housing. And instead of home-schooling, there could be gallery-schooling. The possibilities are thrilling.

  4. Anonymous says:

    JW: And the memoirs written by the first batch of children to be fully raised in an art gallery context would in turn support the ailing publishing industry. There would be the child who mistakenly ate the Janine Antoni piece made of chocolate; the child who smashed the Damien Hirst tank and will be forever haunted by the odor of formaldehyde, not to mention the sight of a dead shark fast swimming at it; the child who got lost for days inside one of Serra’s Torqued Ellipses; the child who donned Carsten Hoeller’s “Upside Down Glasses” and, well, never really quite came back. That last memoir would be called “The Upside Down Child” and it would sell well into the millions of books. Then, there would be the movie rights, which would be especially lucrative for the child who as a toddler emulated some of Marina Abramovich’s more dangerous performances.

  5. Mjudgeny says:

    female response to “seed bed” by was it Vito Acconci? nothing new under the sun

  6. Deborah Moncrief Bell says:

    As the mother of the father of this child (Jason Robert Bell) I have to say I am fully supportive of this bold and brave action by Marni. Shwewill have a midwife and her husband with her as well as the doula and the “audience”hopefully will be people who “get it” about the statement being made. Anyone who doesn’t get it or would demeans this experience in anyway need not concern themselves with it.

  7. […] Kotak, the pregnant performance artist who caused a bit of a stir when she announced she would give birth to her baby in a gallery, delivered a 9-pound boy yesterday morning. Araceli Cruz of the Village Voice, who first brought […]

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