Marni Kotak

in the studio: Kotak, 7 months pregnant, in her studio at the Contemporary Artists Center residency program in Troy, NY (August 2011)

in the world: Kotak, 8 months pregnant, laying on Marconi Beach in Cape Cod (September 2011)

Raising Baby X

Ajax at home wearing his "Little Brother" camera to record the actions of Kotak

Raising Baby X: The First Year is an ongoing performance art project that re-contextualizes the act of raising a child as a work of performance art, through the lens of both mother and child. Marni Kotak’s son Ajax, who she recently gave birth to in a gallery as a work of performance art, is outfitted with a tiny surveillance camera capturing her everyday childrearing activities. Through this project, Ajax will be recording the actions of everyone around him, including how they interact with and treat him through candid photo, video and audio documentation. The video recorded from Ajax’s camera, as well as other documentation taken by Kotak, will be incorporated into a serious of web-based podcasts and a year-end birthday exhibition at Microscope Gallery that depicts the child’s development through sculpture, installation, found objects and other memorabilia.

Ajax's "Little Brother" camera at Fountain Art Fair 2012

Following Kotak’s live Birth of Baby X at a Brooklyn gallery in October, Kotak will approach raising their son Ajax as a work of performance art. This project approaches the act of childrearing as a work of performance art, bringing attention to the rich intricacies inherent in everyday parenting and family life. Challenging traditional notions of motherhood and the patriarchy, Raising Baby X offers a new approach to envisioning a family, one that evolves through the perspective of the child’s interaction with those around him: mother, father, friends, family and community.

Video still from Kotak's "Postpartum Love" video in the Raising Baby X series

Kotak’s goal for Raising Baby X is that people will remember that human life itself is the most profound work of art, and that this realization will help us as a society to implement social programs that really value families. With all of this lip service to ‘family values’ we find ourselves in a country where the majority of our time is spent working to pay the bills or developing superficial relationships via social networking sites like Facebook. In the current economic climate, most parents must both work just to make ends meet, forcing them to place their children in daycare to be raised by strangers. We are told by the government that breastfeeding is what is best for our children, yet we have no paid maternity leave, or other interventions at work to facilitate this. Public education, so essential to families, doesn't receive the funding it deserves.

Video still from the "Little Brother Leprechaun" video in the Raising Baby X series