Bound to Beauty: An Interview with Orlan

In Peg Zeglin Brand Weiser (ed.), Beauty Matters. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. pp. 289-313 (2000)
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Orlan is a French performance artist whose work on beauty elicits shock and disgust. Beginning in 1990, she began a series of nine aesthetic surgeries entitled The Reincarnation of St. Orlan that altered her face and body, placed her at risk in the operating room, and centered her within certain controversy in the art world. Undergoing only epidural anaesthesia and controlling the performance to the greatest degree possible, she "choreographs" and documents the events. This enhanced interview I conducted with Orlan cites her own words and offers commentary and explanation on her complex and conceptual works of art. I offer a concept of "virtual beauty" and locate her aesthetic intentionality within the realm of traditional art history (works by the great "masters" of art) and traditional aesthetics, rejecting any possibility of a viewer's disinterested stance toward Orlan's visual representations.
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