ORLAN, performance artist from France. Photo © Courtesy of the ORLANSTUDIO
1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.
I am ORLAN among other things, and as far as possible my name is written in capital letters because I don’t want to be lumped in, I don’t want to be lumped in like many artists. My beginnings started with painting lyrical abstraction and geometrical abstraction, sculpture, drawing and also performance.
2.What does your work aim to say?
I am an artist who is not subject to an artistic practice, a technique or a technology, whether current or ancient. What I want is to say important things for my time by questioning its social phenomena. I check all the information I can find on the I cross-check it, I analyse it, I synthesise it and then I ask myself the question in what material? In what style? What materiality? Will be the most interesting to reveal the initial concept and allow me to derange, to question this phenomenon.
For example I worked with aesthetic surgery but while using it I had implants usually put on my cheekbones to raise them on my temples which created two bumps on each side of my forehead to say how much beauty is only a question of dominant ideology here and now in a geographical and historical point and that it is all relative but we are imposed models which are for the most part unattainable.
I also show that all civilisations have tried to fabricate bodies and at the moment it is two bumps that I asked for because they were not supposed to bring beauty but ugliness and to be outside the stereotypes of beauty of our time have become organs of seduction.
3.Where do you find inspiration for your art?
Ideas often come from reading or information and I often draw on other practices. I am very interested in science and medicine. For example, I have cultivated my cells and my intestinal, vaginal and oral flora to make bio art works, but I have also created sculptures in Carrara marble or in resin and in 3D printing.
4.What are your future projects?
After the autobiography that has just been published by Gallimard “ORLAN strip-stease: tout sur ma vie, tout sur mon art”, I am writing my first novel. I also want to make an album “Tout slow” to bring bodies closer together in this period of physical distancing and to do this I have written song lyrics that I have given to musicians and singers so that they make a melody and sing these lyrics and I have then introduced my voice into these pieces.
Currently I have created slows in collaboration with La Femme, Terre Noire, Charlemagne Palestine, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Les Sans Pattes, Les Tétines Noires, Thibaut Barbillon and I am working with many others.
I always have parallel projects and here I am also working on endangered animals that I position in their natural environment but also with new robots that I have designed from recycled objects or materials. I am developing my ORLANoïde which is a robot that speaks with my voice and a text generator as well as a movement generator. I also have a very important NFT project that I can’t talk about…
ORLAN (Saint-Étienne, 1947) – the pseudonym of Mireille Suzanne Francette Porte – is a performance artist, a reference in Body Art, famous for her post-organic research. In 1964 she began her career as an artist, and from 1978 to 1982 she organized the International Symposium of Performance in Lyon. In 1984 ORLAN is a lecturer at the National School of Fine Arts in Dijon. In search of the ideal beauty, she uses her body to be shaped from 1986 until 1993 with a series of surgical operations documented with images and videos; on that occasion, the operating table became her atelier for her surgical performances, including facial prostheses and therefore horns!
Among the most famous performances is “Le Baiser de l ‘Artiste” (1977) at the Grand Palais, Paris, for the fourth edition of FIAC – International Contemporary Art Fair. Hidden behind a fake armor that represents her body, she kisses anyone who inserts five francs inside the special slot. But in addition to the armor, this work is completed if we also consider on the one hand the image of the artist in the role of the Virgin, we can read the work in a feminist key. All this also refers to the “Strip-tease occasionnel à l’aide des draps du trousseau” (1974-75), in which ORLAN, from a Baroque Madonna, shows herself naked until she disappears. Some of her works are kept in public and private collections including the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
In 2003, the French Minister of Culture Jean-Jacques Aillagon awarded her the title of knight of the Ordes des arts ed des lettres, while in 2010 she became a knight of the National Order of Merit. ORLAN is one of the most important French artists in the world and lives and works in Paris.