Connect With Us


Childbirth As Performance Art


Marni Kotak

Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time I take the attitude that I may not like a piece of art, but the artist has a right to create it. I just found one of those zero point one percenters.

 All my maternal instincts want to scream ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR PUNY MIND??????

 Brooklyn, New York, performance artist Marni Kotak has decided to give birth at the Microscope Gallery in the Bushwick neighborhood in front of a live audience. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EGOTISTICAL MIND?????

 Kotak explained to the New York Post, “I hope that people will see that human life itself is the most profound work of art, and that therefore giving birth, the greatest expression of life, is the highest form of art. I have decided to do this because I want to show people that, as in my previous performances, real life is the best performance art.”

 She is. She’s out of her self-centered, self-absorbed mind. And her “good support team” is even more so. The support team consists of her midwife, doula (a birthing professional who is not trained to deliver the baby) and husband. “Of course,” Kotak said, “I am a bit nervous about the whole process of giving birth and having a child, and like every mother, I am a bit nervous about the whole process of giving birth and having a child and like every mother, I am hoping that everything goes smoothly.”

 No, lady, not like every mother. Most mothers care more about the safety and atmosphere created for their baby than they do about getting a round of applause or making an “artistic” statement. When that baby is finally ready to be born (a date Kotak is apparently not terribly sure about), that fragile, precious, tiny infant will be forced out of a dark, warm, enfolding, snug, secure little space, painfully, crushingly pushed through a barely flexible hole and dumped into a cold, bright, noisy space that scares the crap out of him or her. He/she will be forced to suddenly give up floating and absorbing and have to suck air into virgin lungs. He/she will have someone’s finger shoved in his/her mouth to clear the airway – some strange, vinyl-tasting thing fishing around his/her tongue. Being born is traumatic. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s terrifying.

 And this “artist” wants to add the sights, sounds and smells of an audience to this, wants to do this in a wide-open space with god knows what for a heating system and ventilation, wants to subject this precious life to whatever germs that audience is carrying, or perfumes they are wearing. I don’t care if they hand out face masks to everyone and insist that everyone refrain from wearing scents. Americans are never without multiple perfumes – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, laundry detergent, fabric softener all on top of the scents of the fabrics and materials that shoes are made of. We are the smelliest people on earth. It doesn’t matter if the audience doesn’t breathe on the baby, they are giving off germs just standing still. They are shedding skin cells and hair dander and dirt from the outside world.  And speaking of the outside world — how far is this gallery from any elevated trains?  Is there anything within shared-air distance that qualifies as a polluting industry?  What kind of art has been displayed in the gallery and did it involve any hazardous materials like paint remover? 


 Kotak could rig up some giant TV screens and use a closed circuit system if she really want to share her screaming and grunting and expulsion of bodily fluids and sweat and pain with an audience, but for the baby’s sake, she should give birth in a warm, small, quiet space. That child isn’t a prop for an art performance. That child is a living human being who during delivery and afterwards has needs that far exceed Kotak’s artistic vision.

 The midwife and doula should have their licenses revoked for agreeing to put an newborn in such a potentially hazardous situation and the parents….frankly, there are thousands of childless couples in this country who would do anything to have that baby and who certainly deserve him or her far more than a selfish fool and her equally foolish husband. This is as much a case of child abuse as beating a kid with a stick.




Share This Post

7 Responses to Childbirth As Performance Art

  1. Pingback: The top 8 parenting controversies of 2011 (The Week) | Breaking News Today

  2. Mom of 3

    October 25, 2011 at 1:25 am

    I think you are spot on. As a former nurse, my first thought was how could she expose a newborn to the germs in a public place full of strangers like this – during flu season no less!

    As for commenter Marcus – your comments make it clear you’ve never worked on a L+D ward before.

    Seriously, there is a reason why responsible mothers do this in private, and minimize their newborn’s exposure to the outside world during those first few fragile months when baby doesn’t even have a fully developed immune system yet.

    Most mothers protect and nurture their newborns, this one seems to consider her baby to be an object for her own use and aggrandizement with no thought or concern for how she is endangering that baby.

    This is immature and irresponsible, and as any woman who has given birth can tell you, you cannot predict how childbirth will go. What if things go south, these things happen very quickly. What is the plan to get her, laboring, pushed through a crowd?

    And how arrogant does someone who has NEVER given birth have to be to think that her birth experience is so special that she is going to “teach” those of us who have given birth anything. Honestly.

  3. ben

    October 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    While I believe that the “artist” is probably and egotistical maniac as is much anyone and everyone who participates on reality TV. But your last paragraph reveals your own ego or maybe its ignorance. “This is as much a case of child abuse as beating a kid with a stick”. By saying such self righteous outlandish words, you have pulled the spotlight away from those with more thoughtful things to say to yourself. May you bask in your own crapulence.

  4. Bruce

    October 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

    It just sounds like you are jealous.

  5. Marcus

    October 11, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I think it’s absurd that she is considering this performance art and is giving birth in front of a bunch of random people. But I don’t fully agree with the point your making. You’re making it sound like the outside world is filled with germs and unsafe for a new born. Hospitals can be crawling with germs. There are sick people walking around everywhere.

    My “outrage” about this is the fact that she’s calling it performance art. It’s not. It’s an excuse that this self-centered person can make themselves be the center of attention.

  6. Pingback: Live birth… as performance art? (The Week) | Breaking News Today

  7. Pingback: Live birth… as performance art? (The Week) |