Fabulous Harlequin


Fabulous Harlequin

ORLAN and the Patchwork Self

Edited by Jorge Daniel Veneciano and Rhonda K. Garelick

Life in Performance Series

176 pages
150 color Illustrations


October 2010


$44.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

For four decades the internationally renowned French artist ORLAN has interrogated every defining aspect of being human—gender, ethnicity, religion, beauty, physiognomy, and even physiology itself—through an endlessly mutating oeuvre that defies categorization. Performance, sculpture, photography, poetry, design—ORLAN not only creates within these media, she disappears into them, willfully dissolving and reconfiguring her identity through her work.
ORLAN is most famous for her series of cosmetic-surgery performances in the 1990s in which she reconfigured her face and body as a critique of the standards of beauty imposed on women. In 2008, in a seemingly radical departure, ORLAN chose to disappear from her work entirely, effacing her famously protean features from her creations. In fact, she had chosen an even more dramatic way to dismantle her identity and perform it anew. With her Harlequin Coat project ORLAN borrows the commedia dell’arte trickster hero, the harlequin, as her alter ego, using his patchwork motif as a metaphor for the fragmented, multicolored, multilayered performance of the human signature. It is her most collaborative work to date, involving, at different stages, artists from the worlds of fashion, design, film, and technology. In reaching back to this Italian Renaissance character ORLAN simultaneously reaches forward into the most pressing of contemporary concerns: How can we be sure of who and what we are?
Fabulous Harlequin showcases photographs of ORLAN’s projects along with critical essays on ORLAN’s work.

Author Bio

Jorge Daniel Veneciano is the director of the Sheldon Museum of Art. He is the author of Imago: The Drama of Self-Portraiture in Recent Photography; Neo-Constructivism: Art, Architecture, and Activism; and Play’s the Thing: Reading the Art of Jun Kaneko.
Rhonda K. Garelick is a professor in the Department of English and at the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is the author of Electric Salome: Loie Fuller’s Performance of Modernism and Rising Star: Dandyism, Gender, and Performance in the Fin de Siècle.
Contributors include: Homi K. Bhabha, Rhonda K. Garelick, Michel Serres, Isabel Tejeda, Jorge Daniel Veneciano, Paul Virilio, and Lan Vu.

Table of Contents



ORLAN in America: Preface and Acknowledgments   000

[1] Libre Parole  000


[2] On Secularism: Preface to The Troubadour of Knowledge   000

      Michel Serres

[3] Fashioning Hybridity      000

      Rhonda Garelick

[4] ORLAN and the Critique of Multiculturalism  000

      Jorge Daniel Veneciano

[5] ORLAN and the Terms of Work     000

      Homi K. Bhabha and Jorge Daniel Veneciano

[6] Transgression/Transfiguration: A Conversation     000

      ORLAN and Paul Virilio

[7] ORLAN, Subject Omitted: Attire as Epidermis, Epidermis as Attire    000

      Isabel Tejeda

[8] ORLAN, Forerunner of Tendencies 000

      Lan Vu

[9] In the Name of ORLAN: Artist as Text  000

      Jorge Daniel Veneciano

[10] Four Questions to ORLAN  000

[11] Four Questions to davidelfin   000

[12] Murcia Installation (plates)   000

[13] ORLAN Biography    000

[14] ORLAN Chronology   000

[15] ORLAN Bibliography 000

[16] davidelfin Chronology    000

[17] Contributors 000


2011 Museum Publications Design Winner, sponsored by the American Association of Museums

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