You Are My Baby (2011) was performed as part of the 2011 LUMEN video/performance festival in Staten Island. There I utilized my iPhone hooked up to a portable projector to capture video images of audience members and project them on my belly, thereby making them ‘my babies.’
At the Livesystems booth at the 2011 Fountain New York Art fair, I and my partner, Jason Robert Bell, unveiled a new immersive sculptural product called the In2it. Dressed in my white business suit, I pitched audience members on the many amenities of this air conditioned igloo, offering it as a time share opportunity in which buyers could have their own In2its built anywhere in the world. Jason was present inside the igloo dressed as an Eskimo shaman, helping visitors to ascertain the answers to life’s riddles. The sales pitch for the new product was that “upon entering its frosty white womb, one would be immediately able to intuit the right path to take in life.” The overall goal of this piece is an experiment in marketing a transcendental experience within the economic parameters of a New York art fair.
For the 2011 Bushwick Site Fest, I presented a tribute to my lover, Jason Robert Bell: a 20ft. inflatable sculpture installed on the roof of my building. The green tube dancer read ‘Jace the Ace’ on one side and ‘Love Scepter’ on the other, and was visible by all throughout the weekend from the area surrounding Maria Hernandez Park.
In Double Face Fantasy, Jason Robert Bell and I collaborated in an experiment using chroma key techniques in which we finger painted each other’s faces to reveal the image of the other emerging from beneath the paint. The title of the work pays homage to John Lennon and Yoko Ono's final record, Double Fantasy. The video was presented at Thomas Robertello Gallery in Chicago, July 31 - September 6, 2010.
For the "Wet" outdoor art exhibit in McCarren Park, I collaborated with rival player Jason Robert Bell, to present a new performance game called "Turtle Cove.”
During the piece, two single player teams, Team Alpha, played by Jason, and Team Omega, played by myself, each defended our team’s Turtlecove – a small water-filled crystal cup holding one tiny red ear turtle of the opposite gender.
The purpose of the game was for us each to defend our own cove while also attacking the other team’s cove and taking their turtle. The weapon of attack? A large rubber shuttlecock that had to be kept in the air while advancing towards the opponent’s Turtlecove.
A key aspect of the game was that the competing individuals must be a couple in love. Each lover could say (and basically do) whatever they wanted to get ahead in the game. A referee was on site during the game to call any foul plays.
Jason and I presented Our Year (2010) as our first collaborative work at Brooklyn Fireproof Gallery as part of Bushwick Site Fest 2010. In this video, Jason and I are making love to the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year.”
The Pleasure War! performance, video and installation series expresses my personal fight to achieve full expression of my deepest desires within our contemporary, militaristic society. The piece draws from military exercises, personal rituals, and ancient Sumerian mythology about Inanna, goddess of both love and war and the lightly playful and fiercely passionate elements of feminine sexuality.
In global late-capitalism, we find ourselves in a world which places little value on the real, embodied human experience. The current political administration is characterized by moral fundamentalism and a violent quest for capitalist and imperialist gain, pressuring us to abandon the truths we know within our bodies in order to function on the surface as productive citizens. Through Pleasure War!, I attempt to subsume, and thereby ground and mitigate, the destructive elements of contemporary cultural institutions within the bodily experience.
In Secret Security Clearance, I created a top security environment where individuals had to pass through armed military personnel and complete a Secret Security Clearance form in order to view artworks – which addressed the deeper issues of sex, power and domestic abuse – hidden behind the gallery walls. Questions on the clearance form included highly detailed probes for personal information, as well as inquiries into food and sexual preferences. Within six small rooms hidden behind the gallery walls, those who secured clearance encountered drawings, videos, photos, as well as a live prisoner, tied up nude and forced to eat pomegranates.
Pleasure Farms was first exhibited at the Graham Avenue Green Market, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and later at Cuchifritos Gallery within the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. In this performance, I sold my “fresh vegetables”—biomorphic sculptures molded from body parts--for feelings rather than cash. Visitors to the stand were asked to specify what feelings they wished to obtain from the products they purchased, such as happiness, guilt, disgust, superiority or rapture. Based upon their selection, they were provided with a feelings token which they could then exchange for any "fresh vegetable" which elicited this sensation for them. Each “purchaser” was then provided with a corresponding “Feelings Exchange Receipt” commemorating the interchange.
Conflicted by the issues of spectacle inherent in the medium of performance, during 2001-2003, I consciously decided to not intentionally perform my art. What I resolved to do instead was to go about my everyday business, and document events with photo or video when the fancy struck me. Later the documentation was reviewed, edited, and the everyday experiences interpreted as performance. The results of this project are what I now refer to as Incidental Performances. Examples are Exclusive Eats, Echo Rock and Lost in Your Gaze.
- Exclusive Eats (2001)
- Echo Rock (2002)
- Lost in your gaze (2002)
In my Pleasure and Profit in 2000 campaign, I made a hyperbolic advertisement of myself both as a mockery on the pervasiveness of advertising in late-capitalist culture and as a call to individuals to harness the power of the media for their own individual aims. In this performance, I circled the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area on a sound truck, inciting the local residents at an earth-shattering volume in both English and Spanish to stand up and make ads of themselves. Audience members were also invited to make a pledge, by signing a pledge form, to do what they can to help the community achieve the twin goals of Pleasure and Profit.
Livesystems.net was conceived as my life as a business online, utilizing methods of mass media to present a new economy driven by my desires and those of my community. The overall goal of the work is to serve as a way to live true to myself as an agent of late-capitalist culture. In order to enter the site, viewers must agree to a NDA whereby they agree to only share the information on site in a way that will contribute to the pleasure and profit of Marni Kotak and Our Community. On Livesystems.net, photos and charts of my pastimes are exhibited as strategic information and sold as products. There is also a conceptual ad campaign to sell advertising space on my body: Write Your Message on My Body: Place Your Ad Here.