Brooklyn performance artist will give birth before gallery audience

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Bushwick-based performance artist Marni Kotak will be giving birth to her first child in, I suppose, a very hipster way, as part of a performance-art piece in a "public birthing room" at Brooklyn's Microscope Gallery. The "exhibit" is called "The Birth of Baby X," and will allow art fans and other curious onlookers to watch and wait with Kotek over the next five or so weeks, as she waits to push out her little bundle of art.

Defining what constitutes "art" can be a slippery enterprise. Someone who enjoys a Rockwell illustration may not fancy an "installation, video, durational performance culminating in a live birth." Different strokes and all that. And I guess that difference of opinion is what keeps art challenging and fresh.

Kotak thought of the idea back in March, when she learned she was pregnant. For the past six years, she's been performing re-enactments of milestone events in her life, such as her grandfather's funeral, and the time she lost her virginity in her parents' Plymouth Acclaim, with the actual car and cherry-poppin' ex-boyfriend incorporated into the piece. She also turned her wedding with husband Jason into a "collaborative art-making performance."

Kotak told The Village Voice:

"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. This child is the greatest work of art that Jason and I could ever make together. So often I find that people overlook how our lives are full of the most amazing, shocking, challenging, beautiful, and disturbing experiences — far more interesting than anything anyone could put together as a "performance."

The thirty-six-year-old Kotak has a doula present for support, and will be joined by a midwife when she finally goes into labor. The due date is uncertain, but the performance will run through November 7. Audience members are encouraged to bring salty snacks for Kotak's cravings, especially "Nutella on rice cakes" and "potato chips." After the baby is delivered, Kotak will begin her next performance, seriously, called "Raising Baby X."