A Brooklyn woman is turning her birth into performance art by putting herself and her last weeks of pregnancy on display at a gallery. When she goes into labor Marni Kotak will squeeze that puppy out in front of a live audience. Part of me feels like this is major exploitation, but another part of me feels she is brilliant.
There is a fine line between exploitation and inspiration, which I feel I straddle everyday. I write about The Munch because she ignites ideas I feel compelled to share and it keeps me from boring my friends by talking about her all day. After all, she consumes so much of what I think about I have to get it out somehow. I tell myself that she is more than a worthy subject because observing a child grow is relatable to all humans who have ever been a baby. And then I tell myself to get a cute pair of flared corduroy pants and eat less sugar.
I feel like raising a baby is an art form worth sharing in the same way that writing, painting or dancing is… so maybe birthing a baby is too?
My initial conviction was that birth should be an intimate experience, and to have a bunch of strangers watching this magical moment would cheapen it. Yet obviously this woman sees birth as part of her own artistic self and sharing it with the world is maybe the her own living personal manifestation of the art inside of her. And besides, hospital births often have people in the room who you don’t know and will never see again. Who was that guy with the camera anyway? Maybe birth isn’t about privacy because creating a child is actually a very public act? You are creating another human for society after all….
We also have to think of how birth is viewed in today’s society and why transforming it into art might be very meaningful. For modern western women there is also a lot of psychological and emotional confusion around birth. The way it is represented in the media perpetuates a fear culture that is completely inaccurate. Women are often made to feel out of control and like they don’t know what they are doing. There is so much anxiety attached to the birthing experience that women often lose trust in themselves and their connection to their bodies.
So maybe this birth as art will be very empowering to not only the artist performing, but the people watching as well?
But what this experiment isn’t seemingly taking into consideration is how the baby is going to feel coming into the world as a piece of art. Is little baby X going to feel objectified that their vaginal entrance into the world is like their debut curtain call even though they didn’t know they made it through the second round of auditions? Maybe the baby will be an exhibitionist for the rest of their lives because of the quantum energy surrounding their first breath? Or maybe everyone will be in such awe that it will experience a massive injection of collective love? Or maybe if this woman was a real edgy artist she would give birth to soldier carrying a white flag in its teeth because that would really make a political statement.