Born in St-Étienne (France), 1947Lives & works in Paris (France) Very active in: 80s, 90s
Orlan is not an artist of one medium. She is mostly famous for her work with plastic surgery in the early to mid nineties, but she has a body of work that started long before, and that is still evolving and innovating.
The Reincarnation of Saint-Orlan, which started in 1990, involved a series of plastic surgeries in the course of which the artist started to morph herself with respect to some of the most well known historical paintings and sculptures. Supported by her Carnal Art manifesto, these works were filmed and broadcast in institutions throughout the world, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Sandra Gehring Gallery in New York. Orlan's goal in these surgeries is to acquire the ideal of beauty as suggested by the men who painted women. When the surgeries are completed she will have the chin of Botticelli's Venus, the nose of Gerome's Psyche, the lips of François Boucher's Europa, the eyes of Diana from a sixteenth-century French School of Fontainebleu painting and the forehead of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Orlan picked these characters, "not for the canons of beauty they represent? but rather on account of the stories associated with them." Diana because she is inferior to the gods and men but is leader of the goddesses and women; Mona Lisa because of the standard of beauty, or anti-beauty, she represents; Psyche because of her fragility and vulnerability within the soul; Venus for carnal beauty; Europa for her adventurous outlook to the horizon, the future.
In 2007, Orlan collaborated with the Symbiotica laboratory in Australia, resulting in the bio-art installation The Harlequin's Coat created with skin cells cultivated in vitro, taken from ORLAN and from people with various skin colour and origin.
Le Plan du Film (A shot a movie), initiated in 1988, is inspired by a Godard's comment: « The only great thing about Montparnasse 19 is that is was not just made back to front, but represents the flip side of cinema » to produce a movie the other way around. ORLAN exploited her own image bank to produce a series of movie posters, trailers and soundtracks for fictitious films. She is now working on the actual production and distribution.