VILNIUS - A Lithuanian musician gave birth to her first child last week, but she did it in the DNA art gallery in Berlin.
The public birth was the highlight of an exhibition entitled "Birth" that took place April 24 in the German capital. Thirty people attended the "live art performance" as 27-year-old Ramune Mitrikeviciute, posing under the pseudonym of Gele ("flower" in Lithuanian), delivered a healthy daughter Audra ("tempest") before their bulging eyes.
Gele and her German boyfriend Winfried Witt announced their plans for the unprecedented art performance 10 days before the scheduled birth. Just as carefully as married couples choose a maternity hospital, the pair picked the appropriate gallery, promising that anyone interested could watch the delivery.
Witt, who is an artist himself, explained in the exhibition's invitation that this would be "an exceptional experience" because "man is a unique and existential work of art." The artist wanted to "show living people, perceived at the same time as object and subject, through a kind of magnifying glass and to expose man within the sphere of his personal life."
Witt is already well known in Berlin for his other scandalous initiatives.
Some 300 would-be spectators registered for the exhibition via the Internet and were waiting at the gallery day and night with anticipation for the expected call. The exhibit was planned to continue until May 4, Gele's due date. However, nature's masterpiece couldn't wait, and Gele went into labor early.
The 30 people who managed to make the exhibition on time calmly watched the obstetrical miracle only a few meters away.
The expectant mother had warned in advance that if any complications occured during labor, the art project would be immediately cancelled. But Gele gave birth without any major difficulties 's with the help of a doctor and midwife.
The happy mother told the German press that she had not been worried during delivery, and that the swarm of gawking strangers hadn't bothered her.
The exhibition's idea, the couple admitted, came accidentally during a conversation when Gele was explaining to her boyfriend that, because a woman creates with her entire body, birth is art. The exhibition was her chance to prove this.
Johann Novak, manager of the gallery, said the couple wanted to challenge conventional norms. "It's a bit of a test to see if society can cope," he said.
Not surprisingly, many criticized the "live art exhibition," including doctors and religious leaders. Germany's churches condemned the initiative and called the performance "tasteless" and a "platform for voyeurs."
Gele's professors at the Lithuanian Music and Theater Academy, where she formerly studied, were worried when they heard the shocking news from Berlin. They said the musician might ruin her career due to the conservative views of her classical colleagues. Academy professors recalled Gele as a talented and disciplined girl and found it difficult to believe that she would create such an exhibition.
After the delivery, the famous mother withdrew from the spotlight, avoiding any attention from media. As for Gele's latest work of art, certainly, it will be her most cherished.