CHICAGO — On February 13, I found myself in the back seat of a bus in Chicago with the artist Marni Kotak. We felt comfortable in the back of the bus. We are those kinds of women.
By definition, performance art is transitory. It’s sometimes spontaneous. It’s often interactive. And it’s always an experience. It isn’t, however, a tangible object like, say, a painting, sculpture or even a string of musical chords on paper. And so, we’re left with a perplexing question: can performance art ever be bought? In other words, is it possible for a piece to be “owned” by anyone other than the artist once the performance is over? For some clarity, we turned to a group of performance artists, art festival and collective leaders, and curators …
Yesterday, Bushwick artist Marni Kotak emailed a video of her baby, Baby X (aka Ajax), and the announcement that he has a new corporate sponsorship tattoo.
“Would you like to see the birth?” Elle Burchill from Microscope Gallery casually offered me a spot on the list of people who would be notified of the birth of Baby X. The night of the opening of the exhibition and performance The Birth of Baby X was pretty cold. Despite the media attention that followed the news that Bushwick performance artist Marni Kotak was planning to give birth in a gallery, the turnout at the opening wasn’t any larger than the usual crowd at a Microscope Gallery opening. “Yes, please. Put me on the list,” I heard myself saying loud enough to mute the doubts and fears I had.
There I was, sitting in a rocking chair at the Microscope Gallery in Bushwick but I felt like I was visiting a friend in her own home and we were just sitting around bullshitting. No, it wasn’t one of those snobby holier-than-thou art shacks in Manhattan. It was Marni Kotak’s show, The Birth of Baby X and the rocking chair had belonged to the artist’s mother.
After watching Bushwick’s visual arts scene grow and usurp the energy of Williamsburg’s two decades of dominance as the epicenter of the city’s artistic edge, curator Larry Walczak decided it was time to put together an exhibition that investigates the neighborhood’s recent art heritage. The show, Williamsburg2000, opened on March 12 and includes 68 artists. Taking place at the small artist-run indy space Art101 on Grand Street, the exhibition focuses mostly on Williamsburg’s “second wave” that began in 1998 and continued until 2002, coincidentally its the same time period that Walczak ran the Eyewash gallery space with the late Annie Herron.