Monday, April 26, 2010

The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan

"Clearly Carnal Art does not inherit anything from the Christian tradition, against which it fights! Carnal Art points to religion's denial of the 'pleasures of the body', and puts the naked body in the spaces opened up through scientific discovery. Carnal Art does not inherit anything from hagiography through decapitations and other martyrs, it adds more than it takes away. Augmenting their powers instead of reducing them, Carnal Art is not self-mutilation.

Carnal Art transforms the body into language, reversing the Christian principle of 'the word made flesh', the flesh is made word. Only the voice of Orlan remains unchanged."

(Carnal Art Manifesto)

What are the religious implication of Carnal Art?
Why are Orlan's surgeries so difficult to watch?
Are her artistic and political goals furthered by her nine surgeries?

Sunday, April 25, 2010


S'habiller sur sa propre nudite, 1974

mesuRAGE de Paris, Centre Pompidou, 1977

Self-Hybridization series: Precolumbian, 1998

Self-Hybridization series: African, 2000-2003

Self-Hybridization series: American Indian, 2005-2008

Carnal Art vs Body Art

Carnal Art is not against cosmetic surgery but, rather against the conventions carried by it and their subsequent inscription, within female flesh in particular, but also male. Carnal Art is feminist, that is necessary. It is interested not only in cosmetic surgery, but also advanced techniques in medicine and biology that question the status of the body and the ethical questions posed by them. She calls it Carnal Art. Unlike 'Body Art', Carnal Art does not desire pain as a means of redemption, or to attain purification. Carnal Art does not wish to acheive a final 'plastic' result, but rather seeks to modify the body, and engage in public debate. Says Orlan: "'My work is not a stand against cosmetic surgery, but against the standards of beauty, against the dictates of a dominant ideology that impresses itself more and more on feminine . . . flesh'". It's also a stand against nature. Through her art, Orlan seeks to link the interior self with the exterior self. She takes physiognomy to its extreme.

Video on Orlan and Carnal Art

Body Alteration / Body Modification

Waafa Bilal
...and Counting

…and Counting addresses this double standard as Bilal turns his own body – in a 24-hour live performance -- into a canvas, his back tattooed with a borderless map of Iraq covered with one dot for each Iraqi and American casualty near the cities where they fell. The 5,000 dead American soldiers are represented by red dots (permanent visible ink), and the 100,000 Iraqi casualties are represented by dots of green UV ink, seemingly invisible unless under black light. During the performance people from all walks of life read off the names of the dead. "

"The Body is Obsolete"

Ear on Arm


Body Extension

Oskar Schlemmer, Spiral Costume

Rebecca Horn, Finger Gloves

Janine Antoni, Umbilical

April Wood, Feeding the Hunger #4

April Wood, Feeding the Hunger #4

Yevgenyia Kagonovich, Double Balloon Mouthpiece

Tiffany Parbs, Blister Ring

Gijs Baker, Profile Ornament

Jennifer Crupi, Posture Gauge-Chin

Jennifer Crupi, Guarded Gestures

Body as symbol of mortality

Lauren Kalman, Cystic Acne

Hannah Wilke
Starification Object Series, 1974

Hannah Wilke
Intra-Venus Series #4

Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait with Reflection

John Coplans, Self Portrait Upside Down

Jenny Saville

Difference and Race, Difference and Culture

Renee Cox, HOTT-EN-TOT

Ellen Gallagher, Oh! Susanna.

Berni Seale, Girl, from Colour Me series

Berni Searle, installation from Colour Me

Glenn Ligon, Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Black Features/Self-Portrait exaggerating My White Features


Tania Bruguera, The Weight of Guilt (Untitled #2)

"My work is ephemeral not only because of the use of live actions or fragile materials but because of the ephemeral condition of any political 'truth'"

- Tania Bruguera, exerpt from Artist Statement

Zhang Huan
My America (Hard to Acclimatize)

Zhang Huan, Family Tree, 2000
Using the body as a canvas

Difference and Sexuality

Catherine Opie
Self Portrait / Pervert

Catherine Opie
Being and Having: Self Portrait
1991- ongoing

Ma Liuming Fish Child

Ma Liuming
Fen-Ma Liuming Self Portrait 5

Ma Liuming
Fen-Ma Liuming's Lunch 1

Ma Liuming
Fen-Ma Liuming Walks the Great Wall

Robert Mapplethorpe
Self Portrait

Robert Mapplethorpe
Self Portrait

Robert Mapplethorpe
Lou, NYC X

Robert Mapplethorpe
Derrick Cross

Robert Mapplethorpe

Glenn Ligon
Notes on the Margin of the Black Book

Difference and Ability

The Ugly Laws

A person with an obvious disability making his way along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in December 1970 would not simply have been enjoying the spectacle of one of the nation’s busiest commercial venues at the height of the Christmas shopping season. Whether he knew it or not, he also would have been engaged in an act of civil disobedience. On the books of the Chicago Municipal Code at that time was an ordinance colloquially known as “The Ugly Law.” It provided that:

“No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.” 2

Similar laws could be found on the books in cities such as Columbus, Ohio,3 and Omaha, Nebraska.4 They were not repealed until around 1973 or 1974. 5

The above was taken from a lecture given by M. Cathleen Kaveny, J.D.,
(Associate Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame) at Loyola University of New Orleans on April 13, 2005.

"Individuals with disabilities are a discrete and insular minority who have been faced with restrictions and limitations, subjected to a history of purposeful unequal treatment, and relegated to a position of political powerlessness in our society, based on characteristics that are beyond the control of such individuals and resulting from stereotypic assumptions not truly indicative of the individual ability of such individuals to participate in, and contribute to, society."

-Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990


Erica Duffy Voss, Untitled (Solenoid Piece)

Erica Duffy Voss

Jo Spence
The Picture of Health? Property of Jo Spence?

Jo Spence
The Picture of Health?

Jo Spence
The Picture of Health?

Reva Lehrer

The work of Reva Lehrer

Circle Stories

Of Body

Bill Shannon

The Shannon Technique