"For Me, Pain Is An Anachronism"


Which is good, since French performance artist Orlan has made a career of, some would say, mutilating her body.

In the 90s, Orlan made waves in the art world with what she described as “carnal art” – filming herself receiving a series of plastic surgeries intended to give her the Mona Lisa’s forehead, “the chin of Botticelli’s Venus, the nose of Gerome’s Psyche, the lips of François Boucher’s Europa, the eyes of Diana from a sixteenth-century French School of Fontainebleu painting.” As a result she is, to say the least, a physically distinctive figure.

Her work has always been controversial; although the 61-year-old defines herself as a feminist artist, she’s been criticized for embracing plastic surgery, masculine ideals, and an ethos that seems less about, say, explorations of larger questions of identity, than variations on explorations of Orlan. Of course, she could care less, as is made clear in this interview she gave the Guardian. She embraces narcissism as an artistic necessity, decries a double-standard she feels the intelligentsia applies to the plastic arts and generally expresses that she sees no conflict between self-indulgence and statement, launching a perfume and questioning the body’s position in society. Watch it – but be warned, there are a few moments of “carnal art” that the squeamish should avoid.

French Artist Orlan: ‘Narcissism Is Important’
Orlan [Official Site]

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