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Marni Kotak Turns Giving Birth Into Performance Art

The Birth of Baby X, 2012 digital video, color, sound 4 minutes 30 seconds

The Birth of Baby X, 2012 digital video, color, sound 4 minutes 30 seconds

Marni Kotak, “Surviving 6 Karpas (Beth Israel Psych Ward)”, 2014, photographic plaque, 40 x 24 inches (detail)

Marni Kotak, “Surviving 6 Karpas (Beth Israel Psych Ward)”, 2014, photographic plaque, 40 x 24 inches (detail)

All the Meds I Took

All the Meds I Took

Marni Kotak is off her meds. At least, she’s aiming for that. Prescribed a potent mixture of psychotropic medications in 2012 for her port-partum depression, Kotak’s latest work of performance art, “Marni Kotak: Mad Meds,” features her attempt to wean herself off medication.

Kotak’s 2011 work, “The Birth of Baby X,” was the literal progenitor of “Mad Meds,” culminating in the birth of Kotak’s son Ajax in front of an audience in the gallery space. This controversial exhibition was meant to “convey the authentic experience of [her] life as it is being lived, simultaneously engaging with audience members who become active participants in the actual events unfolding,” Kotak says. “The Birth of Baby X” was followed up by “Raising Baby X” (2011-ongoing), “Postpartum Depression” (2012), “Raising Baby X: The First Year” (2012), “Ajax’s First Birthday Party” (2012), “Raising Baby X: Playtime!” (2013), “Raising Baby X: Family Jam Session” (2013), and “Raising Baby X: Little Brother” (2012-ongoing). Is involving her son in her performances from literally the moment of his birth exploitive? What will it be like for Ajax when he’s old enough to realize that his childhood has been a public spectacle in the name of art?

“Mad Meds” does not involve other people in the performance, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not without its own complex issues.

The 6-week durational performance exhibition and installation finds Kotak addressing her personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry as she attempts to withdraw from psychiatric medicines prescribed as follow-up treatment for post-partum depression more than two and a half years ago. (Source)

Depression can be agonizing; depression after childbirth can be especially isolating in its opposition to the socially acceptable construct of happy new mommy. Of course, Kotak is completely within her rights to wean herself from her medications if she feels that they’re not working correctly, or if the side-effects have become too overwhelming, or if she just wants to. Naming the 10-foot trophy in the work “Med-free and Happy,” though, has implications about psych meds and depression that go far beyond her performance. If Marni Kotak is able to publicly stop taking psychiatric medication as a work of art, that would be a personal act that she has chosen to share, as she did the literal moment of her son’s birth. If Marni Kotak is using her art to suggest that it is some kind of achievement to stop taking meds, the many, many people who are thankful every day that they are functioning and whole and able to live their lives because of the medication they take may have a different point of view.

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Palestinian Artists Transform Photographs Of Rocket Explosions Into Powerful Human Images

Image credit: Belal Khaled

Image credit: Belal Khaled

Image credit: Tawfik Gebreel

Image credit: Tawfik Gebreel

Image credit: Bushra Shanan

Image credit: Bushra Shanan

Images and news of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been circulating media for a few weeks now. The photographs that emerge out of this war are tragic and graphic. A handful of Palestinian artists have been transforming images of smoke and fire from the attacks on Gaza into portraits that reveal the very real and human cost of these rocket explosions. By inscribing faces and bodies onto images of destruction, these artists are reminding people from all sides that war takes its toll on an individual, human level, a fact that is often erased when the media creates its narratives. These simple, yet powerful, illustrations give these Palestinian artists a voice that they might otherwise not be given, a voice that tells a different story than the ones represented in the original photographs. (via demilked)

Featured artists: Tawfik Gebreel, Bushra Shanan, Belal Khaled

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Kanye West And Spike Jonze Collaborate On Short Film “We Were Once A Fairytale”

Kanye west / Spike Jonze - Film

Although We Were Once a Fairytale (2007) begins slowly, with Kanye West stumbling drunkenly around a nightclub, the short film offers strange but rare insight into the celebrity/artist/god’s psychological complexes in a totally strange and successful way. He accomplishes this by stabbing himself in a bathroom, and producing a rodent from his guts. One of the main criticisms thrown Kanye’s way (other than pointing to his spectacular ego) is his inability to express himself coherently, but in his collaboration with Spike Jonze, Kanye seems to accomplish seemingly genuine and recognizable sentiment.

At first all of your assumptions about Kanye are affirmed: seeing him act like a shithead around the club, pitching back and forth barely able to stand, he is almost too easy to dislike. It’s about halfway through, when he ends up in the bathroom alone, that things begin to change. After he stabs himself, the vulnerable and repulsive creature he extracts from his streaming red-ribbon viscera creates an inner layer of Kanye most people are perhaps even unwilling to concede to him. Depending on how you look at it, it could be as cheesy/naive Bound 2 music video, but it’s difficult not to respect Kanye for the attempt to bare something deeper even when he is bashed so vehemently by pretty much anyone. The film defies direct interpretations. You have a sense of what the rodent represents: something living within, curious and grotesque, but it’s difficult to make sense of his relationship to the creature when he hands it a miniature knife. The final shot of Kanye’s expression maintains the ambiguity of the event, and keeps you thinking about it long after.

 


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Silly Pendants Transform Women’s Breasts Into Site-Specific Art Installations

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The goal of Japanese designer Takayuki Fukusawa’s work is “to create things that make people say , ‘he made another ridiculous thing.’” And that he did. His newest series of works is called Tanama Diver, and it features pendants that resemble human and animals who are poised to look like divers and climbers. They are positioned in a way that they appear as if they’re headed into the cleavage of whomever is wearing them.

The silly accessory includes figurines like a salaryman diver, a skydiver, an astronaut, and canyon climber. There’s even a sloth and wolf thrown into the mix. Alone, they look innocuous, but when around someone’s neck suddenly transform into provocative pieces of tiny, site-specific works of art that interact with your breasts. (Via Demilked and Spoon and Tamago)

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Installation Takes Visitors On A Nocturnal Stroll Through An Enchanted Forest

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Latest installation by Montreal-based media and entertainment studio Moment Factory invites visitors to explore the illuminated paths of an enchanted forest in Québec, Canada. Foresta Lumina, a 2 km long trail, meanders through the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook full of colorful light installations, visual projections and chilling sound effects.

According to the creative studio, Foresta Lumina strives to reveal park’s natural beauties and mysteries. Along the nocturnal stroll through the forest, visitors are acquainted with the region’s fictitious heritage and forest mythology: fairies, spirits and other bewitched mythical creatures. “It’s all about goosebumps,” says Gabriel Pontbriand of Moment Factory.

The multisensory experience is achieved through a set of skillful arrangements. Colorful lighting compositions turn the forest into a glistening canvas, whereas video mapping brings natural elements to life. Dynamic visual projections accompanied by ethereal soundtrack escort visitors into the mystical world of fantasy.

The project has already become a major tourist attraction with an average of 500 to 1,000 visitors every night. Foresta Lumina is open to public until October 11th. (via designboom)

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Abstract Paintings Created With The Help Of Larvae

Emil Lukas - Painting Emil Lukas - Painting

Emil Lukas - Painting

Emil Lukas doesn’t actually paint, and half the time he has larvae do it for him. The Pennsylvanian artist’s recent exhibition at Sperone Westwater Gallery was comprised of two bodies of work: one of paintings made entirely with fine thread, and the other artworks with many layers of larvae trails recorded in ink. His strategies to create these works are particular, and in the case of the larvae pretty unconventional. Lukas’ creativity is reactive and set in the present. With his thread paintings, he mounts one thread across the canvas, considers its placement and compositional purpose, and then continues the same process with the next. In a macro and micro sense the work is contemplative, as each thread is placed with purpose, but also that the final composition should turn out having the same slow and purposeful glow as the act itself.

In the summer, Lukas keeps fly larvae eggs in a converted Tractor Factory that he uses to create his ink-path pieces. He covers the larvae in ink, and uses light and shadow to manipulate their route. After, he applies a translucent wash over the trails, and repeats. The level of control that Lukas can maintain is both impressive and essential, as the strategy seems to form a good balance between chance and design that produces consistent but unexpected work. The paths end up looking like tree roots or coral. Nature is ever-present in the layers of Lukas’ paintings. (Via Artnet) Read More >


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Damon Casarez’s Poignant-Yet-Hopeful Photos Of Moving Back Home After College Because Of Debt

Mikey Billings, 29, Statesville, N.C. Degree: B.A., Film studies, Full Sail University Career Goal: Film or music industry Current Job: Working part time at a malt shop Student Loans: $80,000

Mikey Billings, 29, Statesville, N.C.
Degree: B.A., Film studies, Full Sail University
Career Goal: Film or music industry
Current Job: Working part time at a malt shop
Student Loans: $80,000

Annie Kasinecz, 27, Downers Grove, Ill. Degree: B.A., Advertising and public relations, Loyola University, Chicago Student Loans: $75,000

Annie Kasinecz, 27, Downers Grove, Ill.
Degree: B.A., Advertising and public relations, Loyola University, Chicago
Student Loans: $75,000

Monica Navarro, 24, Escondido, Calif. Degree: B.A., Literature and writing, University of California, San Diego.  Career Goal: Librarian  Current Job: Library volunteer, Home Depot Worker Student Loans: $44,000

Monica Navarro, 24, Escondido, Calif.
Degree: B.A., Literature and writing, University of California, San Diego.
Career Goal: Librarian
Current Job: Library volunteer, Home Depot Worker
Student Loans: $44,000

Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, N.Y. Degree: B.F.A., Graphic design, School of Visual Arts Career goal: Graphic designer Current job: Graphic designer and production assistant Student Loans: $130,000

Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, N.Y.
Degree: B.F.A., Graphic design, School of Visual Arts
Career goal: Graphic designer
Current job: Graphic designer and production assistant
Student Loans: $130,000

In today’s economy, it’s not uncommon for recent college graduates to move back home with their parents. According to The New York Times Magazine, 1 in 5 people in their 20’s and early 30’s find themselves in this particular situation. The phenomena is fodder for photographer Damon Casarez’s recent series Boomerang Kids, which was shot in eight states and over 14 cities. His poignant images paint portraits not of people who are lazy, but those who have massive student debt, or see their current situation as a means to achieving their own American Dream. They exist in a strange limbo where they’ve grown up but still aren’t entirely self-sufficient adults.

Even for those not living at home, this series might resonate with you on some level. Student loans and a general high cost of living can make anyone feel like it’s hard to make the ends meet. After all the possibilities offered in college, the real world is generally not as kind. But, these images don’t feel hopeless; they feel hopeful and demonstrate the changing landscape of growing up. (Via Feature Shoot)

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Sophie Kahn Uses 3D Scanners To Capture And Cast Fragmented Women

Triple-Portrait-of-E.

Période-des-attitudes-passi

Période-de-délire,-K

L-Clay-(Fragment),-2012

Sculptor Sophie Kahn has merged new technology with old to haunting effect in her sculptures of incomplete women. Kahn initially worked as a photographer but became frustrated with working in two-dimensions. Modern 3d scanners initiate these sculptures, but the fragmentation of the figures is achieved by using the scanners in a way for which they were not designed. Kahn says:

“When confronted with a moving body, it receives conflicting spatial coordinates, generating fragmented results: a 3d ‘motion blur’. From these scans, I create videos or 3d printed molds for metal or clay sculptures. The resulting objects bear the artifacts of all the digital processes they have been though.”

The absences in these figures is what makes them so arresting. The elements that are represented are death-like in their pallor and stillness. There’s no sense of motion, instead the women look like they were captured post-mortem. Their peaceful body language and impassive faces contrast with their layers and patches. Like the juxtaposition of new and ancient techniques Kahn uses to create these works, the figures are both enduring and fragile.

“These scans, realized as life-size 3d printed statues and installed in darkened rooms as a damaged ancient artifact might be, serve as a incomplete memorials to the body as it moves through time and space.” (Source)

The imperfect sculptures reveal flaws, empty spaces, and altered textures. It speaks of the inability to ever really know a person, as if these pieces of the mapped and printed bodies are all that could be gathered.

“This concern with the instability of memory and representation is the common thread that weaves together the ancient and futuristic aspects of my work.”

Kahn’s fragmented women give form to the futility of capturing the essence of a life.

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