Birth as an art form: Woman delivers in New York gallery

Marni Kotak gave the performance of her life when she gave birth to baby Ajax in a New York City art gallery turned home birthing centre recently. Now they're back.

"It's exactly how I wanted it to be," Kotak said.

"Most of the people hung around for hours holding the baby, talking about the experience together and getting food and other supplies that we needed" until she went home.

The 36-year-old performance artist delivered the healthy four kilogram baby boy at the Microscope Gallery on October 25 in a performance she described as the "highest form of art".

The birth was the climax to an installation that began on October 8. It saw Kotak talking to visitors in a bedroom setting surrounded by her most treasured objects: Her grandmother's bed, where baby Ajax was conceived; a bright green chair in which she was rocked as a baby; videos and photos of her other performance pieces, including re-enactments of her grandfather's funeral and her own birth.

It wasn't weird to give birth in front of the respectful and quiet gallery visitors, she said.

"I had met them all ahead of time and got to know them a little through our conversations in the gallery," she said.

"They were sincerely interested in the project and really supportive of the process."

Kotak, an artist whose performances focus on everyday life experience, said had been in and out of the gallery in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighbourhood between Friday and Saturday, then returned Monday to continue being part of her exhibit. She and the baby will return daily until the installation closes on November 7.

She said is being visited by about 20 people a day, the same number who came to see her deliver Ajax in a birthing pool.

Gallery curator Elle Burchill said new features include the birth video and a large artwork by Kotak's husband, Jason Robert Bell.

Kotak said the finished work, which resembles a tree, incorporates the placenta, umbilical cord, and blood tissue.

- AAP

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