ORLAN, imagine if the pandemic did not dominate our lives at the moment and we could meet in your home or in your studio. Where do we talk together? Maybe we are sitting at your favorite place? I WOULD BE AT MY USUAL DESK WITH MY LAPTOP AND MY PIECES AROUND ME SURROUNDED WITH A BIG VIDEO SCREEN SHOWING “BUMPLOAD: MEMENTO MORI”, MY CAMERA AND MY RING LIGHT.
Studio © STUDIO ORLAN
Where do you come from, where were you born when? I WAS BORN IN THE WORLD, IN EUROPE, IN FRANCE, IN THE LOIRE How and where do you currently live and work? I live and work in Paris, in a studio that allows me to create and receive collectors. BUT USUALLY I LIVE AROUND THE WORLD, WHEN THERE IS NO CORONA VIRUS. NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART Which stations and people have shaped you? HERBERT BAYER, LA VICTOIRE DE SAMOTHRACE, BERNINI, NIETZSCHE, Deleuze and Gathari,… Which writers do you currently find exciting and which books are on your bookshelf? I HAVE THOUSAND OF BOOKS, CURRENTLY I AM READING DAMASIO, “ANOMALIE” FROM HERVE LE TELLIER, AMELIE NOTHOMB LES AEROSTAS, GENEVIEVE FRAISSE, SIMONE VEIL L’AUBE A BIRKENAU by David Teboul. Which books have influenced or shaped you? DE L’INCONVENIEN D’ETRE NÉ OF CIORAN AND LE DEUXIEME SEXE OF SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR, What are you currently reading and where do you keep the book? I am currently reading my own autobiography: “ORLAN STRIP-TEASE: ALL ON MY LIFE, ALL ON MY ART”. I WROTE IT DURING THE FIRST CONFINEMENT AND I AM RE-READING, CORRECTING IT DURING THE SECOND CONFINEMENT. What music do you listen to and when? CHICKS ON SPEED BECAUSE I WORK WITH THEM FROM TIME TO TIME, MARIN MARAIS, REPETITIVE MUSIC, AMY WINEHOUSE, REGIS CAMPO, JEAN-LUC PARENT, FREDERIC AQUAVIVA. I LISTEN TO THEM EITHER BECAUSE THEY ARE FRIENDS OR BECAUSE THEY HELP ME TO FOCUS. If you would cook something for us, what would it be? I WILL MAKE A STEAK OF ORLAN BECAUSE I NEED TO KNOW IF A MEAT TASTES GOOD OR BAD AND I ASKED BIOTECHNOLOGY ORGANIZATIONS LIKE SIANOTICO TO KNOW IF THEY MADE FROG STEAKS BECAUSE THEY ARE VEGETARIANS WHO REFUSE ANIMAL SUFFERING AND DO NOT WANT TO MAKE STEAK FROM ANIMALS SO THAT WE DO NOT HAVE TO RAISE THEM AND KILL THEM.
loft7 © STUDIO ORLAN
What do you like to eat most? I LIKE TO EAT BOOKS, I FEED MYSELF WITH ART, GOOD THINGS LIKE EXTRAORDINARY READINGS. What do you think about breakfast? IF I HAD QUESTIONS LIKE YOURS AT BREAKFAST I WOULD THROW THEM UP RIGHT AWAY. I DON’T EAT BREAKFAST I ONLY EAT IN THE EVENING. I AM DOING LIKE THE RAMADAN BUT I DRINK LOTS OF GREEN TEA ET COFFEE TO ELIMINATE THE TOXINS. What kind of sport or counterbalance to your work do you practice? I USUALLY LIKE TO DANCE BUT BECAUSE OF THE COVID I CAN’T GO OUT, THEREFORE I DANCE AT HOME. SO I STARTED CYCLING IN MY APARTMENT WHILE LISTENING TO SOME SMART TV PROGRAMS ABOUT ART OR LITTERATURE. THOSE ARE QUITE RARE. Do you have special passions for which you are burning, and if so, which ones? ACTIVITY: WRITING AND TRAVELING, WHICH THE CONFINEMENT CAN NO LONGER DO. What personality trait defines you? CARING AND DEMANDING. Do you have a concern that you would like to share with us or a certain question (that we did not ask), which you would like to give an answer to? THERE ARE MANY QUESTIONS THAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE BEEN ASKED ABOUT MY WORKS, LIKE ABOUT MY ROBOT THAT LOOKS LIKE ME, WHICH SPEAKS WITH MY VOICE, WHICH HAS A GENERATOR OF TEXT AND VOICE, AS WELL AS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: THE ORLANOIDE.
ORLAN, Portrait © STUDIO ORLAN
To begin, please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.
MY ARTISTIC LIFE IS FIELD WITH DISCOVERY RENEWAL AND CURIOSITY. I WORK IN SERIES BUT I ALL QUESTIONING WHAT WE THINK IS THE NORM, ESPECIALLY THE NORM OF BEAUTY AND WOMEN’S POSITIONMENT IN SOCIETY. I’VE HAD SOME BIG BREAKOUT PIECES SUCH AS “THE ARTIST’S KISS” AND MY “OPERATION PERFORMANCE”, AND SOME LESS KNOWN PIECES SUCH AS “SÉRIGRAPHIE”. I DON’T CARE TO BE FAMOUS, I CARE ABOUT THE STRENGTH OF MY PIECE AND WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN.
Briefly explain your current project and the upcoming exhibition.
AT THE MOMENT I AM WORKING ON SOME ARTWORKS WHOSE MAIN SUBJECTS ARE ANIMALS IN NATURAL LANDSCAPES AND ROBOTS MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS. THESE UNIVERSES UNITE THE DISCOURSE ON NATURAL PRESERVATION AND THE CHALLENGES OF TOMORROW. I AM ALSO WORKING ON AN EXPOSITION AT THE GALLERY “CEYSSON ET BENETIERE” IN PARIS ON THE THEME OF HISTORIC STRIP TEASE, FOR WHICH I AM GOING TO USE SOME VINTAGE BLACK AND WHITE ARTWORKS AND MY PARTICIPATION TO EXAFRICA WITH PHILLIPE DAGEN AS THE CURATOR AT THE MUSEUM OF QUAI BRANLY.
What are you most concerned about at the moment; what is on your mind?
AT THE MOMENT, MY MIND AND SOUL ARE ENGAGED IN THE WRITING OF MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: “ORLAN: STRIP TEASE, ALL ON MY LIFE, ALL ON MY ART”, WHICH IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED BY THE RESPECTED “EDITIONS GALLIMARD”. I AM THE ONE CORRECTING AND EDITING MY OWN WORK.
ORLAN, Les Femmes qui pleurent sont en colère n°10, photographic print Epson P20 000 on Hanemühle William Turner 210g, 62 x 43 in, 2019 © STUDIO ORLAN
How did you come to art? Why art?
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN THE ARTS, AND I HAVE LIVED MY LIFE FOR ART SINCE WHEN I WAS AN ADOLESCENT. I ALSO WRITE, AND READ. ART IS A TANGIBLE EVIDENCE FOR ME.
What makes you happy at the moment?
WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY, THE RESULT OF MY HARD WORK, IS TO HAVE USED THE TIME WE SPENT IN CONFINEMENT TO CREATE NEW ARTWORKS. MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, MY ROBOTS AND ANIMALS, AND THE ARTIST’S SLOW THAT YOU WILL DISCOVER VERY SOON. THE LEGION D’HONNEUR THAT WILL SOON BE GIVEN TO ME AND “THE ARTIST’S SLOW” WHICH I WILL BE ABLE TO DANCE VERY SOON AS I’M VACCINATED
ORLAN MASQUE PHAGES VIRUS © STUDIO ORLAN
What is currently scaring you?
I DON’T NEED TO BE AFRAID, IT PREVENTS ME FROM LIVING, BUT WHAT WORRIES ME IS THE SITUATION IN THE WORLD, EXTREMISM, PARTLY RELIGIOUS, BUT ALSO, OF COURSE, THE COVID, THE FACT OF BEING PERPETUALLY IN A SITUATION OF ANXIETY AND UNCERTAINTY, OF NOT BEING ABLE TO LIVE FULLY, OF NOT BEING ABLE TO REJOICE, TO GO TO MUSEUMS, TO GALLERIES, TO HOLD PEOPLE IN YOUR ARMS WITHOUT KEEPING A SAFE DISTANCE.
Do you believe that art has a social responsibility? And what do you think it can do?
OF COURSE ART IS A SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. ART COMES TO QUESTION, TO HIGHLIGHT, TO PUT FORWARD EVERYTHING THAT SOCIETY SEEMS TO TAKES FOR “NORMAL”. ART HIGHLIGHTS OPPOSITIONS, CONTRASTS AND STEREOTYPES. ART CANNOT CHANGE THE WORLD, BUT IT GIVES HUMANS THE POWER TO DO SO.
What makes your art special? What is it about – what are the central themes of your work?
Read OLRAN’s answer about her main work in THE DEED | DAS WERK.
How do you protect yourself from too much inspiration these days?
I PROTECT MYSELF FROM TOO MUCH INSPIRATION LATELY, BY DECIDING TO CONSUME ONLY INTELLIGENT MEDIA, NOT MEDIOCRITY. I HAVE THINGS THAT MAKE ME VIBRATE, THAT MAKE ME INTEGRATED, THAT MAKE ME THINK, THAT MAKE ME ACT.
How much in your works is planned in advance – how much is created intuitively?
ALL OF MY WORK IS SCHEDULED IN ADVANCE OBVIOUSLY THERE IS A PART WHICH IS INTUITIVE BUT IT NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED. I AM AN ARTIST WHOM IS NOT COMPELLED TO HER MEAN, I AM STARTING WITH AN IDEA MAYBE AN INTUITION AND I AM LOOKING FOR THE BEST WAY TO REALIZE IT, TO GIVE IT LIFE AND BEAR IT WITH MY SPEECH.
ORLAN, Disfiguration-Refiguration, Precolumbian Self-Hybridization No. 1,
150 x 100 cm, cibachrome, 1998 © STUDIO ORLAN
What are your next goals?
MY NEXT GOAL IS TO CREATE A SLOW AFTER LE BAISER DE L’ARTISTE, LE SLOW DE L’ARTISTE WILL COME OUT, I WANT TO GIVE THE AUDIENCE THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME AND DANCE SLOW, A DANCE THAT I WISH TO PUT BACK IN FASHION, THE YOUNG GENERATIONS DID NOT HAVE THE CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THE UNKNOWN PLEASURES OF THIS DANCE SO MADAME DE SAINT ORLAN WILL SOON CONQUER THE MUSICAL INDUSTRY.
What is your opinion about faith? Do you have principles of faith or is there a motto?
I DO NOT HAVE A RELIGION AND DO NOT BELIEVE IN RELIGIONS, I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE NEED OF A PRINCIPLE TO BE A GOOD PERSON I THINK A LOT OF HORRORS ARE MADE IN THE NAME OF RELIGIONS. GOD IS NOT A LIFE BELIEF OR A WORK ONE, MY PRINCIPLES ARE THOSE OF KINDNESS AND RIGOR.
Which project would you still like to realize, if lack of time, courage or financial resources would not play a role?
IF I HAD A PROJECT TO CREATE WITHOUT CONSIDERING MATTERS OF TIME, BRAVERY OR OF FINANCIAL RESSOURCES IT WOULD BE CONCEIVING MY ORLANOÏD, A ROOT THAT I WOULD BUILD ACCORDING TO MYSELF, A WORK IN PROGRESS CONCEIVED BY PROFESSORS IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN DUBLIN. IT IS BEING UPGRADE WITH NEW SKILL : SHAKING HAND, TRANSLATING TEXT IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES, SIGNING WITH MY NAME…
ORLANOÏDE, Grand Palais, 2018 © STUDIO ORLAN
What do you consider to be attributes of good art?
TO ME, GOOD ART IS NOT CHEESY. TO ME ART IS NOT HERE TO MAKE THE SPECTATOR COMFORTABLE OR FLATTER HIM. TO THE CONTRARY, GOOD ART MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE BECAUSE GOOD MAKE YOU THINK. IT QUESTIONS NORMS, IT’S AESTHETICAL VALUE, IT’S SECONDARY TO ITS MEANING.
Is one born as an artist? Or is studying art compulsory in your view?
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BEING BORN ANYTHING. WE ARE PUSHED BY SOCIETY, BY SOCIALIZATION TO BE THIS OR THAT, BASED ON OUR BACKGROUND, GENDER AND CLASS. I WAS UNDESTINED TO BE AN ARTIST BUT I MADE MYSELF ONE. I HAVE MY OWN INSPIRATION BUT STUDYING ARTS SEEMS NECESSARY TO ME TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS DONE BEFORE, TO QUESTION IT AND COME UP WITH SOMETHING MEANINGFUL NOW, TELLING OF THE CURRENT STATE OF THE WORLD. THE TWO CAN BE TRUE
To whom do you show a new work first?
I FIRST SHOW MY WORK TO MY ORLANOID THE ROBOT I CREATED WICH LOOKS LIKE ME AND WHICH IS GIFTED WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLEIGENCE. WHO BETTER THAN MY OWN CREATION TO JUDGE ME ON MY PIECES ?
What does the first hour of your day look like?
I JUMP STRAIGHT TO MY WORK DANCING>
The group show The Female Side of the Moon with the artwork ATTEMPTING TO ESCAPE THE FRAME WITH A MASK by ORLAN from the year 1965, part of the series Body-Sculptures (1964-67), can be visited from 23 January until 27 March 2021 at the Galerie Z22, Zähringerstraße 22, 10707 Berlin-Wilmersdorf. The exhibition can also be visited online as a virtual 3D Tour.
In times of Corona, when travel, studio visits and personal contacts are inappropriate or even impossible, the written interview remains an important medium to introduce artist personalities, to spread their messages and to stay in touch with art lovers. The interviews are not edited or shortened by the editors and are always reproduced in original sound. Therefore, we do not translate the interview into English or German unless the interviewee submits a translation.
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