Kotak, whose previous exhibitions include “The Birth of Baby X” (2011), “Raising Baby X: Year 1” (2012) and “Mad Meds” (2014), continues in Treehouse to present life as art, this time in the context of a recent and major fire in the artist’s and family’s home and art studio, involving substantial losses of possessions, temporary displacement, and a long restoration, testing the artist’s sense of security and familial stability.
The new photographs, paintings, videos, sculpture and a durational performance installation – most of which were made in direct responses to the event or its recovery process – find the artist reflecting upon life decisions and striving to achieve a less anxious existence, focused on what she considers most important. In a series of impromptu performance photographs shot on the night of the fire, Kotak appears as a trespasser in the devastation of her own home; sculptures upon closer look are revealed as the actual charred remains of earlier works shown at the gallery; and paintings featuring texts written in red oil pen on gold-painted wood, copied from the artist’s diary entries, including erasures, reflect her conflicting emotions: despite the extensive damages, fortunately no one was seriously injured.
A durational performance and installation work also titled “Treehouse”, positions the exhibit in the here and now. Conceived as a gift for her son Ajax and an act of rebellion against a society that tends to undervalue personal time, the triangular-shaped wood structure – elevated on tree stumps, with chalkboard paint on its interior walls – is proposed as an alternative world for playing games, for making art, and for enjoying each other’s company free from fears and distractions, both immediate and seemingly distant. Kotak, who will be in the space on most days, at times accompanied by her son, invites the public to join her in setting aside time for meaningful endeavors and to contemplate the concepts of love and compassion, beyond their clichés.
Two new video works, recorded over months and years, offer broader context. In “Fire”, a roughly 20-minute video, Kotak records the aftermath from the initial inspection of the damage room-by-room, to discussions with fire officials, to the beginning of the re-construction process, before passing the camera to her son to record the family’s return to their “new” home just before Christmas. Everyday moments stand alongside monumental occasions in “Raising Baby X: Five Years” a nearly 6-hour video portrait of Kotak’s family life culled from hundreds of hours of footage shot entirely from the view point of the artist’s son, whom she has regularly equipped with a GoPro camera since the age of three months.