Orlan




The Reincarnation of Saint-Orlan, a new project that started in 1990, involves a series of plastic surgeries through which the artist transformed herself into elements from famous paintings and sculptures of women. As a part of her 'Carnal Art' manifesto, these works were filmed and broadcast in institutions throughout the world, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Sandra Gehring Gallery in New York.[12]Orlan's goal in these surgeries is to acquire the ideal of female beauty as depicted by male artists. When the surgeries are complete, she will have the chin of Botticelli’s Venus, the nose of Jean-Léon Gérôme's Psyche, the lips of François Boucher’s Europa, the eyes of Diana (as depicted in a 16th-century French School of Fontainebleu painting), and the forehead of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Orlan picked these characters “not for the canons of beauty they represent… but rather on account of the stories associated with them." Orlan chose Diana, because she is inferior to the gods and men, but is leader of the goddesses and women; Mona Lisa, because of the standard of beauty, or anti-beauty, that she represents; Psyche, because of the fragility and vulnerability within her soul; Venus, for carnal beauty; and Europa, for her adventurous outlook on the future.[13]

Instead of condemning cosmetic surgery, Orlan embraces it; instead of rejecting the masculine, she incorporates it; and instead of limiting her identity, she defines it as “nomadic, mutant, shifting, differing.” Orlan has stated: “my work is a struggle against the innate, the inexorable, the programmed, Nature, DNA (which is our direct rival as far as artists of representation are concerned), and God!”.[14]


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