Sometimes, just when I think I’ve heard everything, something new comes along and shocks even the pretty unsurprisable me. Such was the case when I came across the newsfeed announcement of Marni Kotak’s The Birth of Baby X, a performance art exhibit that begins today, October 8, and continues until November 7, 2011. Performance Art, in and of itself, is typically controversial what with Marina Abramovic’s (literally) starving art The House With the Ocean View (2002) to Chris Burden’s terrifying Trans-fixed (1974). But, birth as performance art? Really?
Kotak is pregnant, due anytime from now until the middle of November and her Birth “exhibit” is merely the beginning of a several decade project wherein she brings to fruition the “long-term project ‘Raising Baby X,’ which will document her child's upbringing ‘from birth through attending college and developing an independent life.’”
It hasn’t been that long since the first Internet birth was streamed (Lynsee, November, 2009). Then there were a couple of Net natural births, and we’re now waiting for birth of chiropractor Dr. Nancy Salgueiro‘s baby any day now.
But, Kotak’s upcoming performance in the Microscope Gallery in New York City beats all of these modern-day births by a zillion miles.
Yesterday, on my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page, I shared the link to The Village Voice’s article and interview “Marni Kotak, Artist, Will Give Birth at Microscope Gallery, for Real” about and with Marni Kotak and received a fantastic response I had to share with y’all. Here begins the discussion (my comments in parenthesis):
NgM: I can't WAIT to hear thoughts about this one! I'm half-fascinated and half-disgusted... it's as if women are trying to one-up each other on the graphic-ness/immediacy of public birthing. Just when I think Live Streaming one's birth is the most narcissistic thing to do (which, btw, I would totally have done!), someone comes along with something even more self-involved.
SW: Why is this self-involved?
RK: Eh. Whatever floats her boat. If this makes her happy and this is how she wants to birth, more power to her.
LC: Well, it's official. Birth has officially jumped the shark.
(NgM: “Jumping the shark” is a term that came from television and means that you know, with all your being, the show is all downhill from that point.)
KK: Ironic, that the once common objection to hospital birth was the presence of strangers and now it seems a small population of women have turned that on its head. Taking homebirth out of the realm of private and sacred, but to a public spectacle.
SP: I just don’t get it.
NgM: Seriously?! This is an extremely self-indulgent "artistic" act she's putting on. Artists, by definition, want others to look at and react to (either positively or negatively) their work, which is an extension of themselves. Her art is performance! How is birth a "performance" if not her putting herself in front of an audience to react to what she's doing. We speak about privacy so much, how is she going to be able to "let go" and not see the audience? But, how would a performance artist not be thinking about "performing "anything!? As a writer, I think about "how would this make a good article/blog piece/topic on Facebook" about almost