Orlan b. 1947
Carnal Art (2001)
Director: Stéphan Oriach
Carnal Art is self-portraiture in the classical sense but made by means of today’s technology. It swings between defiguration and refiguration. Its inscription into the flesh is due to the new possibilities inherent to our age. The body has become a « modified ready-made », no longer seen as the ideal it once represented, not ready enough to be adhered and signed.
Contrary to « Body Art » which is a different matter alltogether, Carnal Art does not long for pain, does not seek pain as a source of purification, does not conceive it as a redemption.
Carnal Art takes no interest in the result of plastic surgery, but in the process of the surgical-operation-performance and the modified body having become the subject of public debate.
Above all, Carnal Art does not follow Christian Tradition, it resists it!
Carnal Art reveals the Christian denial of the « pleasure-body » and exposes its weakness in the face of scientific discovery. All the less does it follow the tradition of suffering and martyrdom, adding rather than taking away, it enhances the faculties instead of reducing them. Carnal Art is no self-mutilation.
Carnal Art transforms the body into language. Reversing the biblical idea of the word made flesh, the flesh is made word. Only the voice of Orlan remains unchanged. The artist works on representation.
Carnal Art considers the acceptance of the agony of childbirth to be anachronistic and ridiculuous. Like Artaud if rejects the divine judgment.
Henceforth we shall have epidurals, local anaesthetics and multiple analgesics! Hurray for the morphine! (Vive la morphine!). Down with the pain! (A bas la douleur!)
I can observe my own body cut open without any suffering!…I can see myself all the way down to my viscera, a new mirror stage. I can see to the heart of my lover and its splendid design has got nothing to do with the soppy symbols usually drawn.
« Darling, I love your spleen, I love your liver, I adore your pancreas and the line of your femur excites me. »
Carnal Art declares and insists on the individual freedom of the artist. In that sense it resists prejudice and dictate. This is why it has engaged the social and the media (disrupting established ideas and causing scandal), going as far as to the court (in order to change Orlan’s name).
Carnal Art is not against plastic surgery, but opposes its standards such as engraved in the male, but particularly female flesh. It is indispensable for Carnal Art to feminist. It takes an interest in plastic surgery, but just as well in developments in medicine and biology questioning the status of the body and posig ethical problems.
Carnal Art loves mockery and the baroque, the grotesque and other neglected styles since it opposes itself to social pressures the burden of which is carried by both, the human body and the work of art.
Carnal Art is anti-formalist and anti-conformist.