Opinion Brief

Live birth... as performance art?

A Brooklyn artist invites spectators to observe her baby's arrival. But does giving birth in a gallery make it art?

A pregnant New York City performance artist has arranged to have her baby in an art gallery, while an audience watches. The artist, Marni Kotak, plans to spend every day over the next six weeks at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn — which has been transformed into a "birthing room," complete with inflatable birthing tub — until the baby comes. Kotak, who will be attended by a midwife and doula, says the performance, "The Birth of Baby X," will show that "giving birth, the greatest expression of life, is the highest form of art." Is childbirth really art?

This is child abuse, not art: Kotak should be ashamed of the way she's putting her artistic vision ahead of the health and safety of her baby, says L.S. Carbonell at Lez Get Real. Baby X deserves to be born into a warm, safe place, not a public environment full of germs, and the midwife and doula "should have their licenses revoked" for enabling this "self-centered" jerk. "This is as much a case of child abuse as beating a kid with a stick."
"Childbirth as performance art"

Performance art is all about pushing boundaries: Physical feats and the sharing of intimate body functions are central to the history of performance art, says Ceridwren Morris at Babble. "Artists have slept, stared, stood still... there's been plenty of nudity, blood and sweat. Chris Burden shot his own arm in a flesh-ripping, seminal piece." The visceral act of giving birth in a gallery "fits in with this particular trajectory."
"Performance artist will give birth in Bushwick art gallery"

But what about the poor kid? "You know things are going to get interesting when performance artists get pregnant," says Jen Carlson at Gothamist. Even if you're a bit squeamish, "we urge you to go" — if not out of respect for Kotak's art, at least to "donate money for this child's future therapy."
"Pregnant lady sets up public birthing station in Bushwick art gallery"

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