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Orlan (1947 - )
Related: body art - carnal - flesh - visceral - surgery - contemporary art - 1947 - French art
"I can observe my own body cut open, without suffering!... I see myself all the way down to my entrails; a new mirror stage. "I can see to the heart of my lover; his splendid design has nothing to do with sickly sentimentalities"- Darling, I love your spleen; I love your liver; I adore your pancreas, and the line of your femur excites me." (Orlan from Carnal Art Manifesto)
Orlan is the French multimedia/performance artist, the creator of Carnal Art, and a first person who used plastic surgery as a medium of artistic expression. She was born on May 30, 1947 in Saint – Etienne, France. In 1980 she moved to Paris. She has tried painting, writing poetry, dance, theater and photography. In 1964 she started to perform her first street actions in her home town, called "Slow-motion Walks" during which she took the town’s rush-hour routes in an extremely slow pace. In 1971 she performed the action “Je suis une homme, je suis un femme” (I am a Man, I am a Woman. It is also important to note that the feminine and masculine articles have been reversed so that the feminine corresponds with "man" and the masculine with "woman"). In the 1970s she traveled a lot, especially to Africa. She also was engaged in theatre, and the feminist movement. It was also the time when her first scandalous performances came into being.
Orlan relies on her body as the medium for her art. For more than a decade she has organized performances during which she undergoes plastic surgeries changing her face. Some of them are transmitted live by satellite to many places around the world. During the performance the artist talks to the audience, answers the questions, music is played and poetry read."I can observe my own body cut open, without suffering!... I see myself all the way down to my entrails; a new mirror stage. "I can see to the heart of my lover; his splendid design has nothing to do with sickly sentimentalities"- Darling, I love your spleen; I love your liver; I adore your pancreas, and the line of your femur excites me." (Orlan from Carnal Art Manifesto)
Her most famous and controversial works include: “Documentary Study: The Head of Medusa”– it took place at the Musee S. Ludwig, Aix la Chapelle. The motto of the performance is Freud’s text on the Head of Medusa "At the sight of the vulva even the devil runs away.” The artist displayed her sexual organs during her period, under magnifying glass.
“The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan” which started in 1990 involved a series of plastic surgeries in the course of which the artist started to resemble some of the most well known paintings and sculptures including Mona Lisa
“This is My Body, This is My Software” performance accompanied by a book and a CD ROM.
“The Kiss of the Artist” performed in 1977 outside the Grand Palais, site of FIAC, the French art fair. A life-size photo of her torso was turned into a slot machine. After inserting a coin, one could see it descending to the crotch and then was awarded with a kiss from the artist standing on a pedestal nearby. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlan [Aug 2006]
PainkillersOrlan is also working with Canadian film director David Cronenberg. After the latter discovered Orlan's Carnal Art Manifesto in Linda Kauffman's Bad Girls and Sick Boys, he got inspired to write the script for Painkillers. The story is about a future civilization in which pain no longer exists. He asked Orlan to play her own part in this film, and she offered to perform her ultimate plastic surgery performance. She would then be shot and photographed while reading - laughing and performing - with her body surgically exposedfrom top to bottom. When she was at the 55th Cannes film festival, Orlan presented the posters of her project Le Plan du Film as well as the trailer of Oscillation created by Frédéric Comtet.
Orlan: This Is My Body...This Is My Software... (1996)
- Orlan: This Is My Body...This Is My Software... (1996) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
ORLAN, This Is My Body . . . This Is My Software . . . is the first in-depth publication devoted exclusively to the past and present works by this well-known French performance artist. These newest performance-based works use her own body as the subject of aesthetic surgery, where she manipulates her features in accordance with ideals of feminine beauty appropriated from the history of art. Featured in this expanded version of the original 1996 publication, is a document of recent performances, past work, provocative visual images and critical essays. In English and French text, dimension: 9 x 131/2 inches, includes 80 color reproductions.
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