As we've said before, performance art is a very polarizing and loosely defined beast. The fact that Marina Abramovic's work and the guy who stapled his nuts to the ground in Russia can be mentioned in the same breath is weird. Often, extreme acts make it hard for people to accept the form of artistic expression as legitimate.
Marni Kotak's current exhibition at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, "Mad Meds," probably won't convert the naysayers into fans of the art form, but it has the potential to be an experience you will be thinking about for a long time. The six-week durational performance and installation features the artist in "an ideal environment," with a gold-leafed bed, exercise equipment, a television, and various works of art on the walls and throughout the space. Throughout the course of the performance, Kotak will reduce her dosage of anti-depressant medication until she is completely drug-free. The reason that the artist is on meds involves one of her earlier gallery performances.
In 2011, Kotak gave birth to her son in a gallery for a performance titled The Birth of Baby X. According to Artnet, the artist suffered from "crippling postpartum depression that landed her in a hospital psych ward," where she was prescribed the medicine that she will now stop taking for "Mad Meds." Microscope Gallery writes that Kotak's performance is her way of "addressing her personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry," but we have a feeling that medical professionals would not approve.
Outside of a gallery setting, someone going "off their meds" is considered less of a performance and more of a dangerous experiment. If you are curious to see how this pans out for Kotak, check out the exhibition between now and Aug. 25. More info can be found on the exhibition page of the gallery's website.