Orlan is a French artist, born May 30, 1947 in Saint-Étienne. She is not an artist of one medium, but she is mostly famous for her work with plastic surgery in the early to mid nineties and has a body of work that started long before, and that still today, is evolving and innovating.
“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:
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: It started in 1990 and involved a series of plastic surgeries in the course of which the artist started to morph herself with some of the most well known paintings and sculptures including Mona Lisa.
The Kiss of the Artist: It was formed 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 a kiss from the artist standing on a pedestal nearby.
As soon as i found about this artist and did a bit of research on her, I remember that i had immediately lost my oreksi to deal with art that day. I feel that her work is a bit too much for me. I find it tiring and almost meaningless, due to the exaggeration and the feeling of being ovewhelmed that come through her work. It just prooves those who say that all artists MUST by paranoid to produce any decent work. Also, I am a bit concerned about such works of art which use the shock value and can be labelled as provocative, in order to reach for the viewers’ attention. I believe in art that can make a statement and evoke someone’s internal and external world, through the most indirect and sublte way.
I don’t have to scream to be heard!
More information and documentation of her work in www.orlan.net, if you dare! I didn’t want to include more images.