Birth As Art

Performance artist Marni Kotak gave birth to a baby boy named Ajax in a live exhibition at a Brooklyn gallery for her art installation called "The Birth of Baby X." Is birth a form of art that should be shared with everyone, or is it okay to keep it to yourself?


Birth, the ultimate art exhibit

Marni Kotak welcomed her son, a beautiful baby boy weighing 9 pounds, 2 ounces, inside the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, New York -- making her first birth the ultimate art exhibit, an installation she calls The Birth of Baby X. Claiming that "birth is the highest form of art," Marni transformed the gallery into a homebirth-like setting, complete with birthing ball, pool and air mattress for the midwife.

The audience consisted of family, friends and a few strangers who had been invited to witness the exhibit. One guest, Araceli Cruz, rushed to the gallery but missed the arrival of baby Ajax. She wrote at The Village Voice, "What we did find when we entered the steamy space, which the artist converted into a birthing center, was Kotak calmly eating a banana, the placenta in a bowl and the baby's father, Jason, holding his son who was wrapped in a blue towel. The beautiful baby boy was wide-eyed, and as quiet as could be, staring blankly into the camera and video lenses that hovered above him."

Who should be present during childbirth?

I have had friends practically have pizza parties in the delivery room, open to whomever wanted to attend -- male or female. Personally, I only allowed my husband , nurses and doctor to be in the room when I gave birth to my first three children. When I chose to have a homebirth with my fourth, I did ask my mom to assist the midwife, and even that was almost beyond my comfort level.

How to decide who will be in the delivery room >>

Art imitating life

On her website, the artist explains, "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. From intense childhood trauma to giving birth, to the death of a loved one or losing my virginity, even mundane daily rituals such as family dinners, going for a walk in the park, or taking a shower: that's where the real performances are found."

A question is then raised: In the day and age of Facebook and Twitter, with even the minute and boring details of our lives being shared almost constantly, are we all performers? Should we be? And, kind of like the "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, will it make a sound?" concept, are the experiences of our lives that aren't openly shared, including childbirth, any less beautiful or special?

Tell us:

What do you think about this birth as art exhibit?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

More tips to make your birth easier

Finding a birthing option that's right for you
Recording and photographing the birth of your child
Why have a natural childbirth?


Recommended for you


Comments on "Performance artist Marni Kotak gives birth in art gallery"

Kim October 26, 2011 | 6:26 PM

I have had births with just my husband and midwife and doula, with my hubs, midwife and sister, and with my hubs, midwife, sisters and Mom. I found that the more people who were in attendance, the more on display I felt, and the harder it was for me to relax. With my last labor, I had my hubby, my two midwives and a good friend who was there to take pictures. I think I would have been much more self conscious had the labor not gone so quickly. Ultimately I think it is whatever you are comfortable with and everyone has different levels of comfort. As long as you are not putting yourself or your baby at risk, then I think it is fine.

Tracy October 26, 2011 | 6:14 PM

I think honestly whatever you are comfortable with is acceptable, but having said that, I would totally not be comfortable with that. It was only my husband and myself and the Dr and nurses. I just think its a private thing and should be only experianced by the people that helped create it. I think there are exceptions to every rule though....just my two cents worth....

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)