IS THIS ART or IS THIS GROSS???
A pregnant Brooklyn performance artist has arranged to give birth in a gallery space, while an audience watches. The artist, Marni Kotak, is spending every day over the next six weeks at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn until the big day. The gallery has been turned into a "birthing room" and she will be attended by her husband, a midwife and doula. Kotak has said that "The Birth of Baby X," will show that "giving birth, the greatest expression of life, is the highest form of art."
If it happens is a gallery is it art? The history of performance art is filled with over-sharing. Intimate body functions, blood, plenty of nudity, and sweat are central to this type of art. Kotak herself in her career has reenacted her own birth, the loss of her virginity, and the funeral of her grandfather.
She's getting a heck of a lot of press. My quick Google search turned up 1.2 million results. Damn, girl! And reactions are divided between those believing that she has the right to choose this event as an expression of her art and those that think it's just gross. Some even go so far as to suggest this is child abuse.
But is it art? Personally, I feel a bit mixed about it. I couldn't image giving birth in front of a crowd, but
how about all those women that appear on TLC programs like "A Baby Story?" Discovery also aired "World Birth Day," that documented births from all over the world and some of that got very real. These women are giving birth in front of a world-wide audience. And is Kotak's performance any different from those birthing movies I saw during childbirth classes? They were "educational" I suppose. But is it wrong to view that experience as entertainment as well? Isn't there a growing trend of giving birth and streaming it online now? How would you like to be on the other side of that webcam?
It is the "highest form of art?" For Kotak the answer is yes. There are many that might consider it an opportunity to be part of something they wouldn't be otherwise. Is it just gross? Probably for many it is. I think it falls somewhere in between.
If her performance is well-attended at least Kotak's child will have money for the future therapy he/she will inevitably need.