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Old 10-11-2011, 11:11 AM   #1
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Performance Artist To Give Birth In Gallery With Audience

Can that really be considered art, and is it something that requires an audience of strangers?

And the raising of the baby will be chronicled as some sort of "art", whether he or she wants that I guess.

Birth as performance art | Birth of Baby X

The New York Post has dubbed her "the Preggo Performer", but performance artist Marni Kotak hopes life will be the star of her latest work.

The Brooklyn artist intends to give birth before a live audience at her new installation The Birth of Baby X.

“I hope that people will see that human life itself is the most profound work of art, and that therefore giving birth, the greatest expression of life, is the highest form of art.” she told the Village Voice.

Kotak has installed a "birthing room" in the Microscope Gallery and she will spend each day there until the baby arrives.

The gallery's website describes the installation as follows:

"Beginning October 8, Kotak will transform Microscope into her home birthing room, complete with her grandmother’s bed, and her old rocking chair. The exhibit has been orchestrated around Kotak’s official due date."

The mother-to-be is due sometime in the next five weeks and visitors to the gallery are warned the baby may be born at any moment:

"Visitors should be prepared to find themselves suddenly as witnesses to a live birth."

Kotak belives that "people today are desperately seeking a sense of meaning in their lives. Facebook is feeding into that and providing - what I see as an ultimately empty - solution for a hyper-mediated world."

"I have decided to do this because I want to show people that, as in my previous performances, real life is the best performance art.”

Kotak has no fear for her or her baby's safety, despite the unusual birth environment, confident the gallery is as safe as a hospital.

“I wouldn’t say that I am scared to do this, because I have a good support team: my midwife, doula and wonderful husband,” she told the Post.

“Of course, I am a bit nervous about the whole process of giving birth and having a child, and like every mother, I am hoping that everything goes smoothly. But I am no more worried than I would be if I were having the baby at home or in a hospital.”

Kotak has also planned her next work, the inevitable Raising Baby X, in which she will "re-contextualize the everyday act of raising a child into a work of performance art."
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:46 AM   #2
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Art seems to have lost its definition with so many "forms" being considered art. I mean, I could splatter paint on a canvas and say it means something. Then again, I prefer the fine arts over modern and post-modern art.

Reading the above article reminded me of Versailles, where the royal women gave birth with the entire court watching so they can see the heir to the throne come forth. Unlike Versailles, this woman is a willing participant.
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Pearl
Art seems to have lost its definition with so many "forms" being considered art. .
This has ALWAYS been the case. Every century every decade there have always been people who have performed or created ideas they want to call art and those that did not want to accept it as art.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:09 PM   #4
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real life is the best performance art
But isn't real life real life, and art...art? I don't get it, I never do....
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:35 PM   #5
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I could see it if she was making some sort of ironic/artistic statement about how so many people have to live their entire lives in front of an audience these days, whether it's online or not. But I don't think that's what she's trying to do, well not intentionally.

I think birth is an art form of sorts, more like an amazing event that defies description.. seeing a new life start right before your eyes like that. But I don't think it needs an audience of strangers, in fact I think that diminishes it. With an audience of people you choose and want to be there, I'm sure it's a thing of beauty. In spite of the pain and everything else.

For me it gets to the question, when is it narcissism and exhibitionism more than art. Maybe all great art requires both of those to some degree, but I still wonder.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:39 PM   #6
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Maybe all great art requires both of those to some degree, but I still wonder.
When you say this, do you mean artists are overly self centered enough to think the world should care about their feelings and point of view?
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:41 PM   #7
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I see no problem with this woman giving birth in a public space for her own purposes if that's what she wishes, however this part unnerved me a little:
Quote:
Kotak has also planned her next work, the inevitable Raising Baby X, in which she will "re-contextualize the everyday act of raising a child into a work of performance art."
Unclear what that will consist of, but it sounds uncomfortably like The Truman Show, or some creepy Borges novella.
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But isn't real life real life, and art...art? I don't get it, I never do....
In this case it's both, because of the framing involved. If you were to agree to give birth on-camera for an educational documentary on 'The Miracle of Birth,' then that frame will turn the birth into a mass-distribution educational event, but at the same time it still remains your own personal real-life experience. Performance art is different in that the artist specifically aims not to commodify the experience in that way, it must remain fleeting and nonreplicable which is basically the whole point, but the dual nature of the situation is the same.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:42 PM   #8
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When you say this, do you mean artists are overly self centered enough to think the world should care about their feelings and point of view?

No, I guess it would be more like you have to put it all out there and not care what people think. If you're worried about that it will stifle your true creativity. Something like that.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:46 PM   #9
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No, I guess it would be more like you have to put it all out there and not care what people think. If you're worried about that it will stifle your true creativity. Something like that.
Oh OK.

I don't think I would call it confidence, but rather bravery. I remember Jodie Foster saying it takes a very brave person to be an actor and Sheryl Crow comparing singing to an audience to being naked in public. You are so vulnerable and exposed, and anyone could react in anyway they want. It does take a lot of courage to expose your inner thoughts and feelings and then face the judgments of others.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:53 PM   #10
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Unclear what that will consist of, but it sounds uncomfortably like The Truman Show
It does. The baby has no choice in how and where he/she will be born, and no choice in having his/her life be some sort of experiment either. But maybe it's not too far removed from someone blogging or Tweeting or Facebooking every aspect of their child's life. I don't know.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:00 PM   #11
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Performance art is different in that the artist specifically aims not to commodify the experience in that way, it must remain fleeting and nonreplicable which is basically the whole point, but the dual nature of the situation is the same.
So...."performance art" means doing something you were going to do anyway with the only difference being there is a live audience....?
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:48 PM   #12
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just skimming this

art is subjective, no one has to attend

a real non issue
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:00 PM   #13
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So...."performance art" means doing something you were going to do anyway with the only difference being there is a live audience....?
Not necessarily; the basic scenario involved could be something absurd or extraordinary contrived specifically for the purposes of the performance, it's just that it wouldn't unfold in a scripted way. Like other schools of art this starts as a response to a particular cultural moment, in this case the mid-20th century when mass availability of photo and video technology was unmistakably changing how we understand and experience memory, images, and the uniqueness of events forever. And because it's a type of performance, an experience meant to be shared with an audience, this response in part takes the form of an attack on many traditional conventions of theater (linear plot, predetermined script, all the stuff that makes plays replicable). It's not a question of this artist going "Childbirth is as beautiful as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I want everyone to see and realize that," that's not the point. This is a cliched analogy, but it's sort of like how Impressionism came about--the conventional painting world was locked into this very rigid, almost scientific-idealist approach to conveying images, then the Impressionists came along and said, No, seeing isn't about minds comprehending objects, it's about eyes appreciating the play of light. And the initial critical response was that their work was self-indulgent, undisciplined garbage. It might personally leave a given viewer cold, I've never been much of a fan of Impressionism myself actually, but it's not some scam to sell sloppy paintings or make a virtue of technical incompetence, either.
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I remember Jodie Foster saying it takes a very brave person to be an actor and Sheryl Crow comparing singing to an audience to being naked in public. You are so vulnerable and exposed, and anyone could react in anyway they want. It does take a lot of courage to expose your inner thoughts and feelings and then face the judgments of others.
A highschool friend of mine who's now a professional stage actor said something to me once to the effect that basically acting is about emptying yourself of yourself completely, so as to become the bearer of someone else. I have no idea how typical his take on it is, and singing is probably better understood as a separate endeavor altogether, but for me that description is always what comes to mind first when someone talks about acting being grueling, requiring bravery etc.
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It does. The baby has no choice in how and where he/she will be born, and no choice in having his/her life be some sort of experiment either. But maybe it's not too far removed from someone blogging or Tweeting or Facebooking every aspect of their child's life. I don't know.
I could maybe see drawing a distinction between the ethical concerns involved when we're talking babies/toddlers vs. older children/young adults, in that realistically no one except family members and their closest associates really perceives babies and toddlers as individuals in the strong sense anyway, the way we do perceive anyone old enough to talk, consciously socialize and so on. There's a de facto 'generic' cocoon there that might(?) be pretty hard to seriously violate or compromise. I too find it discomfiting when people put seemingly every last moment of their child's lives online, then again, that's kind of their future anyway the way things seem headed, and I'm not sure their generation upon growing up will look on it in at all the same way we would have.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:42 PM   #14
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Thank you, Yolland. Besides the "ew" factor of this for me personally, I've always struggled to understand most of what people call art. I'm into photography (wandering around taking photos, not so much studying other people's work) and that can be a very artistic medium but even my photography is very much "take it as you see it". I like capturing images of actual things.

Our city does this annual competition called Art Prize where artists from all over the world come and display their pieces all over downtown (there are dozens of venues, indoors and out, we even had a giant monster in the middle of the river last year). We just went downtown last weekend and go figure, my favorite entry was a series of black and white photos taken in the Sudan. That's the kind of stuff I "get", photojournalism. I also tend to approach art with the "how long do I think it took the artist to create this" attitude which I know is unfair but that's often how I see it. I think my dog could do something more creative and thought-provoking than some of the Art Prize entries.

ETA: This was my favorite piece: http://www.artprize.org/artists/public-profile/304. And this is the winner this year (personally I am not a fan of religious art but this is a mosaic and it is absolutely exquisite. It could have depicted a turd and still won. She spent 2500 hours on her piece.): http://www.artprize.org/artists/public-profile/49426
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