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Brooklyn artist gives birth as performance art

By Chris Boyette
updated 6:33 PM EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pregnant artist will give birth to first child at Brooklyn art gallery in front of audience
  • Marni Kotak her work "found performances" because based on daily experience
  • Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn hosts Kotak's latest work titled "The Birth of Baby X"

New York (CNN) -- If all goes as planned, performance artist Marni Kotak will give birth to her first child within the month -- in front of an audience at a Brooklyn art gallery.

Kotak calls most of her work, "found performances" because it is based on daily experience. In past work she has re-enacted: her own birth, losing her virginity in a blue Plymouth, and the dark aspects of her first marriage. She has also collaborated with her new husband, artist Jason Robert Bell, in a performance piece called "The Wedding."

"In my work, I aim to convey my real experience of life, while simultaneously engaging in authentic shared moments with my viewers who have likely gone through similar or related events," Kotak says on her website.

Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood hosts Kotak's latest venture titled "The Birth of Baby X." On Saturday, she converted the gallery into a birthing room, bringing in her grandmother's bed and her old rocking chair, so through the month, she can be in the gallery preparing mentally and physically to have her child, according to Kotak.

The exhibit also includes "You are My Baby," first performed at Staten Island's Lumen Festival in June, in which Kotak filmed her audience and projected their faces onto her pregnant stomach.

Sculptures and personal artworks by Bell, are also on display, according the gallery.

"Remnants from the final days of pregnancy and the birth will be added to the exhibition as it progresses," says the gallery website.

The exhibit was coordinated around Kotaks's due date, and the gallery asks visitors to be prepared to witness a live birth. When the time comes, Kotak will have the aid of her husband, a midwife, and a doula as she delivers the baby.

And this is only the beginning for Baby X. This month's exhibit launches Kotak's new conceptual work, "Raising Baby X," in which Kotak "re-contextualizes the everyday act of raising a child into a work of performance art," says the gallery.

"The long-term project will ultimately encompass the overall span of the child's life from birth through attending college and developing an independent life," says Kotak.

"I believe that our most intriguing performances occur when we are not aware that we are performing. It is only in these moments that we are capable of transcending the issues of spectacle that have come to dominate performance art and much of contemporary culture."

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