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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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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Nancy Rubins’ Transforms Children’s Playground Toys Into Large-Scale Explosive Sculptures

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NANCY RUBINS ‘Our Friend Fluid Metal’, 2014. Aluminum, stainless steel, 204 x 500 x 281 inches, (518.2 x 1.270 x 713.7 cm). © Nancy Rubins. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

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NANCY RUBINS ‘Our Friend Fluid Metal, Chunkus Majoris’, 2013. Aluminum and stainless steel, 150 x 192 x 145 inches, (381 x 487.7 x 368.3 cm). © Nancy Rubins. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

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NANCY RUBINS ‘Our Friend Fluid Metal, Paquito’, 2013 Aluminum and stainless steel, 132 x 168 x 96 inches, (335.3 x 426.7 x 243.8 cm). © Nancy Rubins. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

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NANCY RUBINS ‘Our Friend Fluid Metal, Spiral Ragusso’, 2013. Aluminum, stainless steel, 134 x 228 x 187 inches, (340.4 x 579.1 x 475 cm). © Nancy Rubins. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Nancy Rubins‘ grandiose sculpture exhibition Our Friend Fluid Metal is open to public at the Gagosian Gallery, New York. Famous for her explosive installations featuring re-purposed objects, this time Rubins’ transforms old equipment from children’s playgrounds into dynamic large-scale floating structures.

The title of the exhibition refers to materials Rubins’ used to create her surrealist sculptures. The monumental figures are constructed from recycled aluminum playground toys. But the story goes back even further, as the playful critters (elephants, ponies, giraffes, etc.) were made with aluminum from WW2 military planes. Sturdy and, at that time, cheap material was perfect for making thick children’s playground equipment. For the artist, this flux was a natural inspiration.

“Even before the airplane parts the aluminum was a part of the earth and before it was part of the earth it was probably parts of stars and meteors and things that slammed into the earth.”

The exhibition consists of four massive sculptures, all compound through a system of steel trusses and tension cables. Dimensions vary, but the largest measures 17 x 42 x 24 feet. Despite that, Rubins’ works ten to evoke a sense of lightness and stillness, like someone had pushed a Pause button in the middle of an explosion. Her expressionist take towards unwieldy constructions reveals the fair line between rigid and gracefully fluid.

The exhibition runs until September 13, 2014 at Gagosian Gallery, New York.

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Immersive Installation Fills A gallery With Over 20,000 Translucent Flowers

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New York City-based design studio SOFTlab combines technology and craft with an installation titled We Are Flowers. Inspired by nature, the beautiful large-scale funnels are comprised of over 20,000 translucent flowers that create an immersive sculpture in the New York flagship store for Melissa shoes. It appears in the Melissa Gallery and was specifically created for the space. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, it’s funky, colorful, and playful rubber footwear that evokes a childlike feel (although marketed to adults).

SOFTlab’s sculpture is both precisely engineered yet enchanting at the same time. It’s whimsical and not over thought, which is how the designers want you to feel. They write:

Although we used cutting edge digital technology to develop this installation, we hope it remains mostly hidden in order for everyone to experience the magic of a hanging garden of flowers. We imagine this installation as an extension of the We Are Flowers collection by Melissa: technically innovative with attention to every detail, but first and foremost a design that expresses sensuality through its form and brings joy and color to the Melissa experience. (Via Ghost in the Machine)

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Michael Craig-Martin’s Wall Paintings Transform Everyday Objects Into The Extraordinary

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Michael Craig-Martin has been creating art since the 1960s. His wall painting installations from the 1990s and 2000s feel current with their bright colors and flat appearance, but some of the items in the paintings, ubiquitous at the time they were captured, are now relics. Among the shoes and pails rendered in black tape outlines are Nokia style cell phones and milk bottles. That doesn’t diminish the charm of these installations. Craig-Martin’s intent was to make these works in a generic style, even attempting to erase his personality from the works by using tape as outlines instead of pencil drawings. It didn’t work. The purposeful non-style of painted mass-produced items executed meticulously in a vibrant palette at enlarged scale has become one of Craig-Martin’s signatures. The choice of everyday objects for his wall installations was a purposeful one.

“I thought the objects we value least because they were ubiquitous were actually the most extraordinary. … I wanted people to realise how extraordinary everyday objects are, and think about what image-making is. The impulse was never nostalgia, kitsch or a critique of consumerism.” (Source)

Photos of the installations can only capture part of their impact. Walking around a corner only to be confronted with an enormous pink desk lamp is part of the experience, as are the shifting views of eyeglasses and belts through the arches of a candy-colored room. Only when standing next to a seven-foot extinguisher can the scale of the articles be truly appreciated.

Though he is often called a conceptual artist, Craig-Martin prefers to be called radical. It’s not just about the concept for him—the making that comes from the idea is equally important. “Throughout his career, through work in many different media, he has explored the expressive potential of commonplace objects and images.”

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An Interactive Building That Changes Colors Depending On Your Perspective And Time Of Day

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Founder of Los Angeles-based architecture and design studio Urbana, Rob Ley has yet made another venture into the world of interactive architectural installations. This time large-scale. His project “May-September” features a field of 7,000 angled multi-color metal panels constructed onto the facade of Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis.

According to Ley, the project began when he started wondering about the typical notion of the parking structure. Often these huge concrete constructions are unappreciated and ignored by public. Ley posed himself a challenge to turn it into a dynamic system that would interact with the viewers as they pass it by.

Together with Indianapolis Fabrications, they’ve built a huge angular aluminum and stainless steel installation (12,500 square feet) that also features an east/west color strategy (yellow and blue). The visual experience of changing colors and patterns depends on observers’ perspective and speed when they move across the hospital grounds or drive along the street. The piece also interacts with nature as every sun beam or cloud can shape the hues and saturation of colors.

As in nature, the volume and shade offered by the piece shies away from harsh, geometric patterning – instead tending towards a gentle, dappled variability in form <…> [parts of installation] work together as brush strokes to create a dynamic façade <…>.

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Nastasja Duthois’ Embroidered Silhouettes

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Artist Nastasja Duthois creates large installations and small-scale embroidered artworks that explore aspects of shadow and negative space. Though composed of thousands of straight sewn lines reminiscent of crosshatching, the final pieces are generally organic in form from the silhouettes of dogs and animals to more complex landscapes.

“My work is done ellipses, gaps and assembled fragments that attempt to re-transcribe experiences and encounters. It restores daily annotations that one way or another have caused me a surprise, empathy, an indistinct disorder, rebellion or indignation choked. I contemplated steps, stopped movements, noted the words of anonymous … I approached … I immersed myself until disappearing collecting many snapshots of collective life that my readings were converted. Cross existences are mixed with reminiscences and personal obsessions, while retaining their opacity and mystery. They reactivated real memory and imagination. What thoughts and feelings aroused places, objects and people became especially experiences of encounter with oneself. I want to watch the world with the attention of the traveler who discovers a country; I’m looking for simple and fleeting wonders.”

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Azuma Makoto Sent Flowers Into Space

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Azuma Makoto creates elaborate floral installations, and has now added an impressive new endeavor to his portfolio. The artist’s most recent project sent a bonsai tree and an arrangement of orchids, lilies, hydrangeas, and irises into space! The results are breathtaking. The bouquet is full of colour, and floats free, contrasting against the deep darkness of space and the effervescent blue glow of the earth. It’s an extremely poetic gesture, and somehow it feels like no matter how skilled someone might be in photo editing, they could never build these images synthetically to have the same impact. Maybe this is because the images that document Makoto’s process are of almost equal interest. Seeing the plants from start to finish – as they are bought, assembled, and rise to the sky – reveals the unimaginable procedure to be almost within reach of anyone. It’s still completely awe inspiring, either in spite of or as a direct result of this transparency.

Makoto has a great deal of interesting projects with plants, many of which involving bonsai’s. One is a bonsai tree made of lego, which is an uncharacteristically playful creation, although it still holds much of the seriousness present in his other works. In another sculpture project, Makoto created two containers each with a bonsai inside. In one the tree was completely submerged in water and in the other the tree was burned. As in the space project, Makoto seems interested in the subjections the plants may endure, and experimenting with containment and environment. (Via Fastco Design)

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