Body Art

Body Art: Conceptual Artists

Conceptual performers are another step forward in the extreme of art performances. Even Viennese shareholders, no matter how brave they were and how much attention they drawn, they still used fake blood and red paint in their performances, as well as the details of performances such as orgies and torture were faked, not actually performed. And here are the conceptual body artists who used their body without faking anything. This art form is not acceptable to everyone because it is a deeply shocking form.


One of the most famous body artists is Orlan (real name Mireille Suzanne Francette Porte). She has earned such worldwide recognition that some of her performances have already been broadcast live on television from the Pompidou Center where they were performed. Sain-Orlan is the name of the saint, and this nickname was chosen by her as a mockery of the dogmas of the church.

One of the first and famous performance of Orlan that caused a scandal in Paris was called the Artist Kiss in 1977. During the performance, Orlan sat at the entrance to the art gallery, and passing people could get a French kiss from her for 5 francs. On the other side, in front of her, was a picture of St. Orlan (a picture of herself dressed in the clothes of that saint figure), and a passer-by for 5 francs could buy and light a candle for the saint. In this way, Orlan wanted to highlight the controversy between the two most standard stereotypes of depicting a woman (prostitute and holy mother).

Nothing Disgusting About Body

Another well-known performance made by Orlan was called the Head of Medusa in 1978. Orlan demonstrated her genitals during the menstruation through the magnifying glass. This performance is from the same series as the performances made by Abramovich and Sheeneman, when they sought to remove sexuality from a woman’s body, and to show the woman’s body only as an anatomical human form where is nothing sexual, gross, or nasty.

Nothing Disgusting About Body
Nothing Disgusting About Body

Still, the most famous performance is The Reincarnation of St. Orlan. The essence of this performance is that she is going to have nine plastic surgeries to create a “perfect” version of herself. Through plastic surgery, she transfers the features of classic icons into her body such as Botticelli’s Venus chin, Goddess Diana’s eye, Mona Lisa’s forehead, and others. Each operation was filmed, and Orlan, as long as the process allowed it, were reading various texts about art and philosophy on the surgical table.

In this performance, Orlan demonstrated that the body is not some kind of sacred cow, that modern technology allows a person to control, change, improve a body, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. In her view, these plastic surgeries are a liberation from the dictatorship of DNA. After all, DNA, as a program, records how a person looks. Hence, DNA controls us. At the same time, she demonstrated that there is no need to loathe the inside of her body, its incisions. Therefore, the operations were filmed.