N.Y. Woman ‘Performs’ Live Birth for Gallery Patrons

By ABC News

Nov 4, 2011 7:41am
ap marni kotak birth gallery baby thg 111103 wblog N.Y. Woman Performs Live Birth for Gallery Patrons

                                                            Image Credit: Andrea Monti/Microscope Gallery/AP

 ABC News’ Andrea Canning reports:

For Marni Kotak, giving birth to her child was the highest form of art. So the Brooklyn woman delivered her son, Ajax, in a Brooklyn, N.Y., art gallery surrounded by a group of onlookers, many of whom were complete strangers.

Kota, 36, said she wanted to show people that “human life is the most profound work of art and to embrace that,” she told “Good Morning America.”

Her performance of a lifetime took place Oct. 25 at the Microscope Gallery as part of an art installation called “The Birth of Baby X.” Kotak transformed the space into a kind of birthing room, complete with her grandmother’s bed and an inflatable birthing pool.

She even got a trophy for giving birth. Asked about its significance, she said, “I think people should be given trophies for everyday activities, especially for something as amazing as giving birth or being born.”

People are divided on whether the pain and mess that comes with giving birth really qualifies as art. Some say giving birth is highly personal, while others believe that birth is beautiful.

Kotak accepts that some people will find her actions a little unusual.

“It deviates from the norm, so initially people will question, ‘Why is she doing this? Is she crazy or something?’” she said. “This is my choice, it’s what I wanted to do, this is how I wanted to give birth and I wanted to share the experience with a group of people who are sincerely interested in it.”

She’s no stranger to performances that might raise eyebrows. Kotak has been presenting her life-as-performance art for more than 10 years.

“I’ve done reenactments for everything from my grandfather’s funeral to losing my virginity … so when I learned I was pregnant, which is such a profound life experience, it was natural for me to consider that it would be a performance,” she said.

Part of her performance also is a statement.

“Giving birth is our greatest power. I mean when we go to a hospital, you relinquish that to the rules of the hospital … we’re told and (showed) in the media that birth is a medical emergency and it’s something to be afraid of and something to be hidden when it’s actually something completely natural that women have been doing since the dawn of time,” she said, adding that birth should be celebrated

Her labor lasted eight hours, with people trickling in as the birth approached.

“We randomly notified about 15 people and they started coming in at the end of my labor,” she said. “A lot of them were strangers. But they didn’t feel like strangers, I mean, I was sharing this intimate moment with them and immediately we were friends. Nobody brought any bad energy at all. Everyone was very open and supportive.”

With the help of a midwife, the birth went smoothly.  The baby weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces.

Kotak hopes others can appreciate the exhibit celebrating life as an art form.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s the creation of life. Why should we hide that?”

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