Orlan:Carnal Art-Movie Review

Orlan Carnal Art Film Review

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Orlan:Carnal Art

Dir. Stephan Oriach
France, 2002
35mm 75 min.

" A provocative documentary reproducing in massive detail the cosmetic surgery operations on French artist Orlan over a period of ten years, making the physical transformation of her body a radical performance destined to raise surgery into a new art form.

As we repeatedly watch Orlan go under the knife, sometimes with local anaesthetic and the artist's crystal clear comments, the doc splices in interviews with people from the art and medical world analysing Orlan's experiment." (Jordi Sanchez-Navarro)

Inspired by the work of the Vienna Actionists and her own interest in the fascistic qualities of religious iconography, in 1990 she began a project called The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan, whereby she decided to recreate herself through plastic surgery.

In a twisted version of 'appropriation' she has various parts of her body resculpted to resemble body parts from renaissance paintings -- the forehead of the Mona Lisa, the chin of Boticelli's venus, and so on. The use of a local anaesthetic is extremely dangerous, as it requires an epidural block that could result in deformation, paralysis or even death. Instead of photographs, her new medium would be composed of solely her own flesh.

Kier-La Janisse