MesuRages d’institutions et des rues
ORLAN (*1947, France) has created an extensive oeuvre since 1965 using her own body as artistic material. Through photography, video, sculpture, installation and especially performance, she explores and manipulates the relationship between the individual and the social body and between the living, imagined and culturally-coded body. By using the strategies of radical appropriation and transformation, she claims the right to change the imagery of the (female) body as well as the body itself. She has acquired international notoriety through facial cosmetic surgeries staged as live performances, in which she re-creates herself as a hybrid being based on different art historical models.
One of her earlier, less known works is the series Actions ORLAN-Corps: MesuRages d’institutions et des rues, in which she uses her body to measure numerous public spaces, streets and cultural institutions in Paris, such as the Centre Pompidou. In MesuRage de la Place Saint-Lambert, Liège (1980) she uses a section of the large Sain-Lambert square in the historical centre of Liège which has just been cleared by construction as a stage for her performance. As in her previous actions, she wears a white garment made of cloth from her trousseau, which she washes in front of the audience at the end of her performance. In this ritualistic act of measuring public space and inscribing the female body onto it, ORLAN’s body (an ‘ORLAN-corps’) becomes the standard unit of measurement. The dictum of man as the measure of all things, as found in the teachings of the ancient architect Vitruvius and illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci in his famous drawing of the Vitruvian man, is challenged by this radical, subjective and feminist interpretation.
Courtesy ORLAN studio