ORLAN: Post-Identity Strategies
curated by Eugenio Viola, Reet Varblane
Post-Identity Strategies is an exhibition devoted to ORLAN’s works, a multi-medium and inter-disciplinary artist, who, as a protagonist, has journeyed through the most important art movements from the mid-sixties to now as an extraordinary protagonist.
Since her beginnings to her ultimate productions ORLAN demonstrates her capacity to permanently throw everything back into question, to renew her work and to always be at the crossroads of innovations; an endless quest that characterises her itinerary that appears as a “unicum” in the contemporary art panorama.
Her work moves beyond the many “posts” and “isms” of art history, and her unique style has always been that of a complex, irreverent, ironic, blasphemous, iconoclastic artist, for whom the provocation of flesh, the reverse of the body, art and life, the constant oscillation between the real and the virtual, the play of identity, reach the heights of poetry.
From the artist’s reinterpretation of Judeo-Christian iconography, based on a depth study of the Baroque metaphor in general, and of Bernini’s Saint Theresa in particular, ORLAN creates an “hagiographic” declension of the Body Art, investigated through a kind of alter-ego: Saint ORLAN, who will be symptomatic of her artistic journey.
In the surgical-operation-performances of early nineties, her identity research is “reincarnated” to present the climax of a long cognitive process. ORLAN transformed the operating room into an artist’s studio where an artwork was produced, thus inaugurating the mutating paradigm of contemporary art - a progressive return to “bodily” themes - in a direct relationship with new technologies and biotechnologies, a new trend where the French artist once again appears at the front. The appropriation of plastic surgery as a creative art form, both as subject and object of the performance in which the “oeuvre-action” integrates the artist’s body, marks the passage of Body Art into Carnal Art in ORLAN’s work.
In the Self-Hybridization series (Pre-Colombian, African and the more recent ones on Native Americans), ORLAN continues and extends her journey through infinity of possible physical identities. By using various canons of beauty and aesthetics from different times and places, the artist creates “living” totemic figures, almost tangible in their virtuality, fascinating in their disturbing appearance and seductive in their artificial otherness.
Finally, Le Plan du Film, will be present, a work in progress begun in 2001 based on a concept by Jean-Luc Godard. The idea to make a film “backwards,” as a destabilizing synthesis made up of autobiographical facts and fictional elements.
A few facts on ORLAN …
ORLAN was born on May 30, 1947 in Saint-Etienne (France). She lives and works between Los Angeles, New York and Paris.
Since 1964, ORLAN has worked with photography, video, installation, performance and sculpture. In 1977, her performance entitled Le Baiser de l’Artiste presented at the FIAC in Paris caused a huge scandal. In 1978, she founded the «Symposium International de la Performance de Lyon». In 1982, she launched Art-Accès Revue, the first magazine of contemporary creation on Minitel, following which she authored Manifeste de l’Art Charnel. From 1990 to 1993, she conceived nine surgical-operation performances, in Europe and in the United States, all of which were filmed and transmitted via satellite to institutions throughout the world. In 2003, Jean-Jacques Aillagon awarded her the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2005, she obtained a residency from the AFAA at the ISCP of New York.
ORLAN has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Arcimboldo Prize for digital photography, the first prize of the GriffelKunst in Hamburg, and the first prize of the Moscow Photography Festival.
ORLAN has participated in many exhibitions all over the world. She has also participated in numerous Contemporary Art Biennials: Paris, Venice, Istanbul, Lyon, and Sydney.
ORLAN is a regular guest lecturer in universities and other institutions. Numerous television and radio programs, as well as university studies, have been dedicated to her. Her work is featured in numerous private and public collections.
ORLAN website: www.orlan.net
Tallinn Art Hall, Vadabuse väljak 6, Tallinn, 10146, Estonia. T.+3726442818, www.kunstihoone.ee; firstname.lastname@example.org