Mom to Give Birth in Art Gallery

Picture this: A cozy birthing room with an island vibe, wrapped in serene blue ocean wallpaper, complete with a comfy bed, green rocking chair and birthing pool. Now, imagine it's an exhibit at an art gallery – with the mom-to-be herself the main attraction, ready to deliver her first child at any moment.

Well, that's indeed the latest artistic endeavor of New Yorker Marni Kotak.

As you read this, Kotak, 36, is likely padding about her little 500-square space at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn. Curious visitors can pop in daily, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., to see The Birth of Baby X, billed as an "actual live birth as performance art." She has a doula and mid-wife on hand. And the project is slated to run till Nov. 7, 2011 – or until li'l "X" has arrived.

"If my parents told me I was born in an art gallery, I would think that's totally awesome," Kotak told The Village Voice. "And the child isn't going to remember his or her birth anyway, until I explain that. Our child is going to be raised by artists and exposed to artists, and be growing up in New York."

The whole spectacle's gotten folks pretty hepped up. A rant on LezGetReal sums up the sentiments pretty well: "She's out of her self-centered, self-absorbed mind. And her 'good support team' is even more so."

But in many ways, controversy is Kotak's comfort zone. As she says on her website, "I aim to convey my real experience of life." That's included past performances in which she's reenacted her childhood masturbation experiments and losing her virginity in the backseat of a car.

This big debut, though, wasn't a flippant choice, as she told the Voice. Kotak and husband Jason Robert Bell – a fellow fringe artist whose works include Bad Spock Drawings and who sells sparkly Unicorn Turds on his website (their recent wedding, incidentally, also got the art treatment) – first spec'ed out a traditional hospital. But both were turned off by the steep bills and sterile enviro.

"Of course, I am a bit nervous about the whole process of giving birth and having a child," she told the New York Post. "But I am no more worried than I would be if I were having the baby at home or in a hospital."

True to form, Kotak's installation is a wide window into her life. A wall display case holds her pregnancy test, silver baby spoon and Rogam-shot syringe, and you can watch video projections from her recent honeymoon. Oh – and there are two 10-foot-tall preemptive trophies: "One for Marni for giving birth, and the other for Baby X for being born," according to Microscope's site.

The exhibit's being updated as the pregnancy progresses. After the big finale, mom hopes to launch Raising Baby X – turning child-rearing into art, too.

For Kotak's part, she's taken the flak in stride. "I think it freaks people out so much that they're trying to find a way to dismiss it or accuse me of having the wrong intentions," she said in the Voice. "Like, it couldn't be just because I wanted to have my child in this way, which is the case."


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