I expect the blogosphere has already been going crazy with this one. But it does raise some interesting issues...
As you've probably heard, performance artist Marni Kotak is planning to give birth in front of a live audience at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn.
Not surprisingly, The Birth of Baby X has seen the artist accused of "narcissism", of “exploiting” her baby and even of child abuse.
Kotak says she sees the performance as an assertion of authentic personal experience in a world that has become consumed by an unreal hyper-reality. "As an artist, I am most concerned with the question of how one can have and convey a real experience. I believe that our most intriguing performances occur when we are not aware that we are performing."
More specifically, she says "The Birth of Baby X" is about "addressing the assumptions about the way birth in our culture is viewed".
"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,” she told the Village Voice.
She is also planning a post-birth conceptual art project, dubbed "Raising Baby X", which will "help us think about and develop a greater respect for the intricacies of child rearing".
Hmm. Well, I guess that's one way of keeping your creativity going: just turn everyday life into a performance.
But why does living need to be a public act? And is it really art?
I have to admit, I've never been entirely comfortable with the notion of giving birth as the ultimate creative act. Of course, it is the ultimate act of creation. Amazing, yes. And profound. But the incredible beauty and wonder and mystery of nature is something that exists in and of itself. Plants will still be sending out their seeds and animals will still be giving birth whether humans are there to witness it or not. Surely art is our response to this world we find ourselves in.
As for Marni Kotaks' performance: What does it say about our desire to always be on show in order to create meaning in our lives? Does this only take us further away from being present, in our own body and our own life, or do you dig her idea of letting it all hang out in public?
Certainly life doesn't get more real than when you're giving birth. And if there's ever a time when you're going to turn inwards and lose all self-consciousness, it's while birthing.
Though I wonder if that will be true of Marni Kotak...