Can art really be total? With ORLAN

I want to tell the story of contemporary art, or rather, the story of a woman. But let’s be clear: not a woman in the sense that this woman will be born as a woman, will be placed under the abode of gender by Madame La Nature, nor a woman in the sense that this object is obligated according to will. men or, worse, to the whims of painters, who will agree to remain tactful enough in their place in the painting as everyone else remains in the kitchen, when they are not locked in by a jealous husband, no, a woman who goes through art, through her art , finds himself, makes his life and work a total performance, makes his body, but from his enlarged, operated, grafted, hybridized body, from his chosen body, a total work of art, the operation of the operation filmed and broadcast live is also part of works, artistic performances.

When art becomes performance, when art has ambitions to be total, as well as sculpture, photography, video, artificial intelligence, robotics, surgery…, it’s no longer about beauty but the other way around. questioning so many restrictive, narrow-framed beauty standards, and wondering how one can claim to be an artist while remaining warm within the confines of this frame.

It is no longer a question of aiming for beauty but of transformation, the production of new influences and new identities, the discovery and even the production of the self torn from the psychological vulnerability into the real, material, mundane but in a redefined sense: mundane and technological at the same time, techno people -worldly may be brave. This is the program of Sartrean existentialism, namely the self-discovery of an existence that refuses to allow itself to be defined and essentialized – this is Sartrean existentialism that has become a contemporary art performance.

Spinoza is right: we don’t know what the body can do. And we know it less and less when this body is enlarged, operated, chosen, recreated, offered to all human and technological possibilities of its multiplicity. The dandy wants to make a work of art out of their lives, but they are content to dress their bodies in brazen outfits and paint their living room walls an impossible color. These little performers, these dandy… He wanted to make his life and body a total work of art. But is it possible? So what is left of the humanism of the previous world, this humanism of limits and moderation? Can art really be total?

To talk about it this morning, I have the pleasure and honor to accept the total artist you know, ORLAN, Orlan in capital letters so as not to be left in the frame, Orlan who changed until his date of birth, his surname and first name just to be and managed to create himself himself, Orlan, one of the most recognizable faces of contemporary art today, who has just released his manifesto, the ORLAN manifesto as a complement to the main exhibition at the Toulouse slaughterhouse and which featured throughout the summer at the Picasso Museum in Paris “the woman who cries in anger”, therefore ORLAN, who joined us under Plato’s sun, in the French cave of Inter, to help us answer this “beautiful” question: can art really be total?

Excerpt from the interview

More philosopher than artist

Orlan explains: “I’m an artist more of a philosopher than an artist. I’m an artist more of a sociologist than an artist. I’m an artist more of an activist than an artist. So coming to philosophy with you really interests me a lot. .”

Artist’s approach

Orlan explains his approach: “I am an artist who is in no way subject to any new or old material, artistic practice, technique or technology.

What I want is to say important things. I have this claim for my time by questioning social phenomena, by placing myself.

So I always say I, and not me, because I assume that I am made absolutely by everything that happened before me, but also by my surroundings, by everything…”

I am also for nomadic, mutating, changing identity and not a fixed identity.

The artist continued: “And when I attack a social phenomenon, I have attacked a lot of people, including harassment in football, including beauty, including plastic surgery… I really do the dirty work. subject, I wonder how I can say this.”

Various kinds of materials

Orlan explains: “For my artistic approach, for example, I lift my intestinal, oral or vaginal flora, I cultivate my cells, I build robots: moving sculptures, text generators and real movements that speak with my voice … I also been practicing augmented reality. I’m very interested in new technology: I like to spend my time while maintaining a critical distance.”

Too intellectual?

“I am the opposite of intellectual discourse. I am asexual and sapiosexual. When I see a work, it is the same thing. I really need to know what is going on in it, to study it in order to enjoy it more. .I have much more aesthetic emotion. great because I know. I am someone who wants to know, and who does not want to believe.

So, this kind of aesthetic emotion that someone like that could have with the piece I think is really overkill. I seem to be something that doesn’t exist, or when it does exist, it exists badly. For example, I went very young to see Flemish primitives. At the time, I knew nothing about this historic pictorial movement. I had fun, but when I came back, having learned what Flemish primitives were, what they wanted to do, on the other hand, I had more aesthetic emotions because I didn’t, I didn’t feel lost for input, bridge with their steps.

This is really very important. In fact, I am someone who is a perpetual student: I am always on guard and I am completely against what may surround us today: ignorance, denial of knowledge, denial of the past, etc… Because of me, intellectual ecstasy promotes beauty. I can talk, say what a pastor said. He said that luck only smiles at an enlightened or well-prepared mind. Emotion and beauty can only emerge then.”

Listen to the rest…

Go further

ORLAN posted Striptease. All about my life, all about my art at Gallimard in June 2021.

It also enjoys double news to be announced this summer:

  • ORLAN manifesto. BODY and STATUE will be held until August 28 at the Toulouse slaughterhouse museum.
  • His work, from the 1960s to the present day, is considered in an unprecedented way. For the first time, sculpture is a common thread: from Body-Sculpture photos, performances, operations, folding sculpture to AI and robotics. More than a classic monograph, this is a real exhibition, compiled in close collaboration with artists, that is offered at Les Abattoirs.
  • Orlan – The crying woman is angry will be held until September 4 at the Picasso Museum in Paris.
  • Orlan exhibits two collage series at the Picasso Museum to revisit Pablo Picasso’s work through the prism of his relationship with women, while the artist is denounced by feminists as misogynistic and cruel. He revisited Picasso’s work, so that “suffering woman comes out of the shadows“.

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