The French artist ORLAN (*1947) talks about the central message of her artistic work during her interview.
African Self-Hybridization, Surmas Woman with Lip Plug with Face of
Euro-Stephanoise Woman with Rollers, 49 x 61 in, color photograph, 2002, © STUDIO ORLAN
ORLAN, please describe the core theme and the central message of your work.
ALL MY WORK QUESTIONS THE STATUS OF THE BODY IN SOCIETY THROUGH ALL THE PRESSURES, WHETHER CULTURAL, TRADITIONAL, POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS, AND ALL THESE PRESSURES ARE INSCRIBED IN BODIES AND PARTICULARLY IN WOMEN’S BODIES. I WOULD TELL THEM THAT BEAUTY IS A MATTER OF DOMINANT IDEOLOGY, WHICH MEANS THAT IN A GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL POINT WE ARE DESIGNATED WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL, TO WHAT MODEL WE NEED TO RESSEMBLE.
Introduce us to the work that, in your view, exemplifies or best embodies the message of your work.
MY ANSWER IS FIRST OF ALL THREE WORKS; ONE WORK IS “ATTEMPT TO GO OUT OF THE FRAME”, ANOTHER ONE IS “ORLAN GIVES BIRTH TO HER WHO LOVES ME” AND ANOTHER ONE IS “AFRICAN SELF-HYBRIDIZATION”. THE WHOLE SERIES IS IN BLACK AND WHITE BECAUSE I WORK FROM ETHNOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHS. THE FIRST PHOTOS WHERE WE WERE GOING TO PHOTOGRAPH THE OTHER ONE.
ORLAN, Attempting to Escape the Frame with Mask,
black and white photograph, 1965, © STUDIO ORLAN
“FEMME SURMAS WITH A LABRET AND AN EURO-STÉPHANOISE FACE” IS THE REPRESENTATION OF A WOMAN WHO NOT ONLY HAS A VERY BIG LABRET BUT ALSO SEEMS VERY SURE AND HAPPY OF HER SEDUCTION AND THEREFORE OF HER EFFECT ON THE MEN OF HER TRIBE BECAUSE IN THIS TRIBE, AT THAT TIME, IT WAS THE WOMEN WITH THE BIGGEST LABRETS THAT MADE THE MEN THE MOST BANDAGED AND YET IF WE WERE TO BE PUT ON A VERY BIG LABRET NOWADAYS, WE WOULD BE CONSIDERED AS UNDESIRABLE MONSTERS.
What is the aim of your art, your work, what is it supposed to achieve in the viewer?
WE HAVE ART TO NOT DIE FROM THE TRUTH.
THE DEED | DAS WERK is a complementary and separately presented part of THE INTERVIEW IN|DEEDS with ORLAN.
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