- Oct 29, 2002
- East of Suez
Ogopogo said:When my mother returned from a trip to Malta, she brought me some postcards featuring wax museum figures performing various acts of medieval torture.
One postcard featured tongue piercing. It used to be done as a punishment for a first offense for blasphemy.
Artist's plastic surgeries defy beauty standards
French woman undergoes numerous cosmetic procedures
Updated: 1:40 p.m. ET April 23, 2004NEW YORK - French performance artist Orlan, who has undergone numerous plastic surgeries to transform her face and body to challenge traditional perceptions of beauty, says art “has to shock.”
And with her carnal art — which has included reshaping her face to resemble Zimbabwe’s Ndebele giraffe women and performing during her surgeries — she achieves that end.
“The whole idea of (my work) is to be against the idea of social pressure put on a woman’s body,” Orlan said through an interpreter Thursday during a discussion of her work at Manhattan’s Museum of Arts & Design. The 56-year-old artist was joined by Dr. Dimitri Panfilov, a plastic surgeon from the private clinic, “Nefrititi” in Bonn, Germany.
Orlan, whose only noticeable cosmetic enhancement was a pair of bulging saline implants embedded over her eyebrows, said, “I am against the ideas of normal beauty.”
Surgery and makeup
For Orlan, plastic surgery isn’t tummy tucks, liposuction, breast reduction or lip augmentation. It’s an expression of the sublime and grotesque, eccentricities carved into human flesh and sculpted in living bone.
Orlan’s work is graphic and bizarre, a mixture of the absurd and exotic.
During a multimedia presentation, she showed a 40-year history of her work, which began with black-and-white nude poses and ended with thematic performances of her undergoing plastic surgery in graphic detail.
Orlan’s results attempt to resemble nonwestern images of beauty, like the Ndebele giraffe women, who lengthen their necks by wearing dozens of tight neck rings.
Other images she conjures through surgery and makeup are that of a Persian Mangbetu woman, whose head is wrapped in a complex braid, and an Olmec monarch, whose nose is elongated artificially in a death ritual.
Orlan says her carnal art rebels against the Christian revulsion to pleasures of the flesh, and consists of “mutant hybrids,” a combination of tribal art with modern technology.
'An around-the-world tour of beauty'
“This is an around-the-world tour of beauty,” she said.
More shocking perhaps are Orlan’s performances during her surgeries, some of which have their own thematic motifs. During one surgery, she is dressed as a Madonna figure, holding up a large black cross in one hand and a white cross in the other, while the doctors and nurses, in costumes, peel back layers of bloody skin.
Although Orlan says her plastic surgery performances are painless, her work is permeated with a faint sense of masochism.
“My work is against the idea of pain,” she said. “Pain is not good as a form of redemption.”
Even the blood and flesh discarded after her surgeries are used. For one piece, she encased a piece of her flesh in glass and attached it to a tableau.
“The body is a sculpture and a pedestal,” she said.
hallybods said:The practice comes from the dawn of time and has been seen at different times as being a story of the wearer's life and a form of punishment.
hallybods said:(Being Devils Advocate) As for you not caring less - well if you don't really care then why are you posting on the subject?
escargot said:I've read, and believe, that in the 'West' tattoos are traditionally sought at a time of change in a person's life.
to those who couldn't care less aout their "soon-to-be-ugly mauve smudges" body art.
hallybods said:In my experience Arthur I find that of all the tattooed people I have met only a handful have had them done because it is in fashion.
My step dad had lots of tatoos that he picked up in his teens while he was in the Royal Navy. Having seen what they looked like at 40, I wouldn't even think of getting one. It doesn't matter how super they look now, give it 20 years and they will look a mess.
Most people who've told me that turned out to have merely picked a "tailor-made" design from a book in the tattoo shop or have a set of a la mode chinese characters that spell the word or phrase that they chose (at least, that's what the tattooist told them) - that's when the need to justify clicks in..
I've read, and believe, that in the 'West' tattoos are traditionally sought at a time of change in a person's life.