“First Chrismas”, 30 × 35”, Giclee print on archival paper, 2012 © Marni Kotak
4 Charles Place, 917.523.3849
October 13 - November 12, 2012
Reception: Saturday, October 13, 6 - 9 PM
Microscope Gallery is very pleased to present "Raising Baby X: The First Year", a solo exhibition by Marni Kotak, featuring video, photography, sculpture and multimedia installation works based-on a year-long performance re-contextualizing the everyday act of raising a child as performance art, through the eyes of both mother and child. The “Raising Baby X” project was launched last year at 10:17AM October 25th, when Kotak gave birth to her son Ajax before an audience at the gallery as part of her exhibit “The Birth of Baby X”, and continues the artist’s more than decade-long practice of presenting real life as the ultimate performance.
Inspired by Mary Kelly’s “Postpartum Document”, interpreting the maternal experience as art; Catherine Opie’s “Self Portrait/Nursing; and Linda Montano & Tehching Hsieh’s work fusing art with everyday life, Kotak provides a unique, contemporary approach considering her infant son as an active artistic collaborator. With a critical nod to the spectacle of online social media and the sensationalism of reality TV, Kotak incorporates the actual documentation of the day-to-day activities and highs and lows of parenting into new artworks to comment on such broader themes as memory; achievement; the birth to death continuum; and inability to truly capture the fleeting moments of life.
In the “Little Brother” video collaboration, Kotak routinely equipped Ajax with his own spy camera to record his interactions with family and the world around him, in effect turning the traditional power imbalance inherent in childhood documentation. The tension between memory and experience and the complexity of the mother/child bond is evident in a series of large-scale photo montages featuring a nursing Kotak or the baby Ajax blown up to adult-size, their bare skin “tattooed” with snapshots of the child’s first holidays. In Raising Baby X, Kotak also addresses the way success is defined and celebrated in a photo timeline piece, installed throughout the gallery space, in which the child’s everyday accomplishments are recognized as ‘Major Performances’ (including “Placenta”, “First (Breast) Latch”, and “First Time in the Ocean”) and awarded with custom-made plaques.
While birth was the catalyst for ”Raising Baby X", the complete life cycle in all its ups and downs, is Kotak’s wider focus. This is most evident in a sculpture containing, among other elements, the ashes of Kotak’s father-in-law (Ajax’s paternal grandfather), who died just 6 weeks after the baby’s birth. Other works include a quilt made from all the clothes Ajax has outgrown over his first year; the video of the live birth performance; and a custom-made cake that stands ready to be presented to Ajax at his first birthday party. As with Kotak’s previous performances the public will be invited to join in person for the celebration which will take place as a performance at the gallery.
The works of art in the exhibition were made possible, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by Jerome Foundation; the Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Marni Kotak is a Brooklyn-based performance artist who makes multimedia works in which she presents her everyday life as art. She recently received international attention in 2011 for her “Birth of Baby X” exhibition in which she gave birth to her first child as a live performance. Kotak’s “Found Performances”, or works based on daily activities, experiences, or accomplishments, include staged re-enactments of her own birth, attending her grandfather’s funeral, losing her virginity in a blue Plymouth, and her wedding. Her works has previously exhibited at English Kills Gallery, Alice Chilton Gallery; and Fountain Art Fair Miami/NYC among others. She is a recipient of a 2012-2013 Franklin Furnace Fund award as well as a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council. She received a BA from Bard College and an MFA from Brooklyn College.
More info at www.microscopegallery.com