Performance Art, My Ass

Someone linked this story on Facebook (I don’t know if that’s ironic), and I felt compelled to comment.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/10/marni_kotak_gives_birth.php

For those of you who are too lazy to read the article, here’s the summary: this woman is planning on giving birth in an art gallery.  As a piece of performance art.  She will follow up on this by chronicling the child, dubbed “Baby X”, through its developmental years.  Now, far be it from me to say that what she’s doing isn’t art.  Heaven knows, I don’t need anyone coming after me for past projects I’ve been involved in.  What I will say is this:

Fuck.  You.  Lady.

What this woman is doing goes beyond unethical into grotesque and reprehensible.  I don’t care what point she’s making.  For all I know, it may be a valid one.  I certainly don’t get that from her generic rant about Facebook turning the personal into the consumable, but maybe she’s got something worth saying.  I don’t know.  And I really don’t care.  Because whatever point she is making is being made with a human being.  This child isn’t the subject of her art, it’s the medium.  She is quite literally using the baby-to-be as paint on whatever her metaphoric canvas is.  Now, there’s been a lot of interesting choices in medium lately.  Artists have been using pig’s blood, urine, human feces, semen, and a host of other ridiculous things to create works of visual art.  Fantastic.  Whatever floats your boat.  Go for it.  There’s one crucial difference here.

This child is a sentient life form without the capacity to consent to anything.  If a scientist decided to use an experimental drug on their baby just to see what the side effects were, it would be called abuse.  And that’s exactly what this qualifies as.  This child is being used in this piece of performance art without its knowledge or consent.  Beyond that making for one fucked-up upbringing, it damn near qualifies as rape.  Now, I’m the last person who’s going to go around touting the moral bedrock of “family values”, but there is a line.  And this woman is crossing it.  Big time.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, where the fuck is this kid’s father?

Artists are in a unique position to send a message to an audience in visceral, unexpected ways.  The best art shocks and provokes its audience.  But if all art is going to be a commentary on the human condition, then it needs to have an element of humanity in it.  This borderline sociopathic plea for attention certainly lacks that, and it is beyond appalling that any gallery was willing to put this on display.

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