Samhain, The Spirit of Halloween (Ajax’s 9th Birthday Party) (2020)

Samhain, The Spirit of Halloween was the 9th annual birthday party and performance which took place as part of my ongoing project “Raising Baby X” on Halloween 2020. The event drew inspiration from the traditional Gaelic cultural festival of the harvest, Samhain. The event was  held outdoors in front of my Bushwick, Brooklyn home, adhering to social distancing, sanitary, and other safety protocols for COVID-19.

The front of Kotak’s our apartment building was installed with balloon arches and pillars, hay bales, leaves, lit jack-o-lanterns, and a giant balloon sculpture of a pumpkin-headed character Samhain, to celebrate the spirit of the Halloween, the harvest and the cycles of life and death and rebirth. The party featured socially-distanced pumpkin carving for Ajax and his friends, with each child or participant having their own sanitized carving station. 

Ajax was dressed as Samhain, based on representations of the character in Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” and “Ghostbusters,” in a costume he made himself out of paper mache, styrofoam, fabric and other materials. Kotak and her husband, artist Jason Robert Bell, were also dressed in original costumes referencing traditional Gaelic costumes, with Kotak as the High Priestess of Samhain and Bell as the horned God Cernunnos.

This event was held as part of Kotak’s ongoing “Raising Baby X” project in which she recontextualizes the raising of her son as a work of performance art. The culmination of each year of the project is celebrated with an elaborate birthday party performance.

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