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.
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?
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