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Artist Marni Kotak Gives Birth in Front of Gallery Audience: Art Or Narcissism?

Posted on the 27 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Artist Marni Kotak gives birth in front of gallery audience: Art or narcissism?

Artist Marni Kotak, in the gallery, pre-birth.

The birth took place in front of about 20 people, reported The Daily Telegraph. The piece was titled “The Birth of Baby X.”  According to the gallery’s list, prices are available on request for such objects as the freezer holding the placenta, the box holding texas soil, and a rocking chair with a photo pillow. Byzantine emperors were porphyrogenitos (born in the purple); Ajax was born in a room with “ocean blue walls and photo-imprinted pillows.” Next up, Marni Kotak plans to “re-conceptualize” her parental role in a work of art that will last the rest of her life, according to The Washington Post.

“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”, said the artist, Marni Kotak.

Life is art. Jennifer Block on The Daily Beast said we musn’t think of it as performance art, but as “the opposite of performance.” Another mother has recently streamed her labour live. Are these women the embodiment of “overshare”? It’s now de rigeur to post pictures of sonograms and so on, on Facebook – which is actually weirdly old-fashioned, as women used to give birth surrounded by loads of other women. Sure, the internet is more impersonal: but whatever happens on the day, it will be “real, authentic life. Which is what she set out to deliver.”

“Here’s praying the goddesses give her a lovely eight-hour labor with no barfing, no diarrhea, and no [hospital] transfer”, said sociologist and childbirth scholar Barbara Katz Rothman, quoted on The Daily Beast.

This is something else. Maura Judkis on The Washington Post agreed with Block. We live in a world of oversharing – so we should view Kotak as a “hyperbolic response” to that world. It’s not just a woman giving birth, but “something more.” [Although what that "something more" was she didn't elaborate upon.]

“She’s in the tradition of using your life as your authentic material and shaping and forming it”, said Carolee Schneemann, an artist, quoted on The Daily Telegraph.

Artist Marni Kotak gives birth in front of gallery audience: Art or narcissism?

The price list.

Piffle. Obstetrician gynaecologist Dr. Amy Tuteur was a little more sceptical, saying on her blog: “maybe, like many homebirth advocates, she’s just an attention seeking narcissist.”

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