Thursday, November 26, 2009

ORLAN: Carnal Art

I was at my local magazine store the other day and found this Magazine called Carousel which focuses on poetry, fiction, comics and contemporary art.
As I flipped through I found this female contemporary artists ORLAN, who uses her body as a canvass to reveal the very man made constructions of beauty. This is the kind of work that gives you that half nauseous half beautiful feeling. ( To quote Miranda July )

But Im really conflicted...

One thing I want to question is how far is too far? For instance, as you can see her more recent work renders her continuing investigation of transfiguration through photographic self-portraits, Self-Hybridizations, inspired by pre-Columbian, African and Native American cultures. This is quite problematic. How can a white Parisian Performance artist get away with this? would you consider this racist...inhabiting/transforming ones body into African and Native American 'hybrids' through the guise of art?
where do we draw the line between art and cultural appropriation?

Many feminists have called Orlan an anti-feminist due to her goals and the means of reaching them. Instead of banishing cosmetic surgery, she embraces it; instead of rejecting the masculine, she incorporates it; instead of define her identity, she wishes for it to be “nomadic, mutant, shifting, differing.” She negates both patriarchal culture and the feminist ideal by creating her own identity for the future. As Orlan states, “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!”

"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)

Here's a fabulous blurb I found from UC Santa Babara English course Website
"Orlan is a performance artist who uses her own body and the procedures of plastic surgery to make "carnal art". She is transforming her face, but her aim is not to attain a commonly held standard of beauty. Orlan is the only artist working so radically with her own body, asking questions about the status of the body in society."

Drawing attention to the man-made (or "ready-made) construct of beauty. After her third surgery in 1990, she donned this Bride of Frankensteing wig for a portrait. The image is intended to draw attention to the notion that female beauty is constructed by men for the pleasure of men.

What is "Carnal Art"?

Carnal Art is a self-portrait in the classical sense, yet realized through the technology of its time. Lying between disfiguration and figuration, it is an inscription in flesh, as our age now makes possible. No longer seen as the ideal it once represented, the body has become an 'modified ready-made'. Carnal Art loves the baroque and parody; the grotesque, and other such styles that have been left behind, because Carnal Art opposes the social pressures that are exerted upon both the human body and the corpus of art. Carnal Art is anti-formalist and anti-conformist." (UC Santa Babara )

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