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Cosmetic surgery as art and design

Orlan Precol  Orlan Sipa

Controversial French performance artist Orlan will be giving a free public lecture titled This Is My Body, This Is My Software: between western culture and non-western culture in Sydney on 30 July. Orlan will talk about the status of the body in our society, having herself undergone numerous cosmetic procedures for her art.

Orlan is influenced by developments in medicine, biotechnology, digital innovations, her own body experiences and art history. Her art work includes multimedia, photography, live performance, sound, sculpture and video, and always includes her own body in one form or another.

In 1990 Orlan began using cosmetic surgery as her medium. Between 1990 and 1993 she underwent a series of choreographed surgical “performances”. The operations were performed before live audiences and she remained conscious throughout. Surgical modifications to her face were loosely based on icons of Western art: the chin of Botticelli’s Venus, the forehead of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the lips of Boucher’s Europa, the nose of the School of Fountainbleau sculpture of Diana, and the eyes of Gérard’s Psyche.

Orlan says she is not trying to "look like" Mona Lisa, or Venus though this has often been said about her.

The operations have not made her more beautiful. After one she was left with big kidney-shaped lumps on her forehead – she often decorates them with glitter.

In more recent work Orlan has used digital morphing techniques to transform large images of her face. Her inspirations were the skull-shaping and scarification beauty practices of ancient Olmec and Mayan civillisations.

Orlan is represented in public collections worldwide and is Professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Cergy-Pontoise, France. She recently completed a Visiting Professor position at The Getty Research Center, Los Angeles. Orlan lives and works between Los Angeles, New York and Paris.

Orlan’s visit to Sydney is supported by the University of Technology, Sydney, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

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Orlan: This Is My Body, This Is My Software
Monday 30 July 2007: 5.15pm for a 5.45pm start
Domain Lecture Theatre, Art Gallery of New South Wales
No bookings required
Refreshments and exhibition viewing of contemporary galleries at 6.45pm

For further information/interviews with Orlan please contact
Susanne Briggs (02) 9225 1791 or 0412 268 320.