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1.26.2010

Human body as a contemporary art medium??

Good afternoon contemporary art lovers!
Did you ever read this amazing book entitled: "When I was a work of art" written by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt? The story is about a desperate man who wants to kill himself and is "saved" by a megalomaniac artist who convinces him  to become one of his works of art. The artist proposes him to buy his body and  soul, to transform it into a work of art with a market value regardless of its beauty. The man accepts the deal involving surgery and lets himself be dehumanized and exposed in front of everybody. The question is: can he totally forget his soul, his mind, hie life as a human being? He tries to get away from the artist with the help of a young woman whom he is in love with to recover his lost conscious. The story takes place in a narcissistic world where one worships the appearance and semblance... in other words, our world. This book is very interesting because the author raises a real question and the story happens to be almost true...

Most of you know what "Body Art" means. But do you know who Tim Steiner is? Tim Steiner,  a 31-years-old swiss young man, had his back tattooed by Wim Delvoye, a Belgium artist, and sold for 150.000 euros in September 2008. The tattoo represents a Madonna with a skull above her head and took 35 hours of work. The deal was made between the artist, De Pury et Luxembourg gallery and Tim and they all shared the profit. The buyer is allowed to expose Tim as a work of art 3 or 4 weeks per year, and also to scalp Tim's skin upon his death in order to keep the work of art...

Gina Pane,  a French performer, staged her body and tested its pain limits. Her first body interventions questioned the personal relationship to nature. She then executed geometrical paintings, sculptures and installations determined by the relationship of the human body to nature. Known in the 70s, the public subsequently took an important part in her work and became the witness of her performances.
Self-injury is a plastic element used for pictorials goals. All that remains of her work are a series of photographs and her forever mutilated body (she cut her arms with thorns roses or razor blades, she climbed a ladder covered with glass cell but bare feet...). But she isn't the artist who has gone furthest in processing body...

Orlan is a famous French artist who lives and works in Paris. She was one of the first artists working on her own body. In 1964, she produced a series of several photographs, "Body Sculptures", on which she presents herself with different masks and costumes.  Then she did a particular performance, "The artist's kiss", during the 1977 FIAC in Paris. Basically anyone can buy an artist's kiss. The concept of the artist as an object had led her to a series of nine surgeries for one of her most famous performances "The Reincarnation of St Orlan" that happened between 1990 and 1993. Surgeries were filmed and broadcasted in institutions throughout the world such in Centre Pompidou in Paris, Sandra Gering gallery in New York... Her goal was to acquire the ideal of beauty as suggested by men who embellished women though art (the chin of Botticelli's Venus, the nose of Jean Gerome's Psychee, the lips of Francois Boucher's Europa...). She chose these characters based on stories these women are associated with rather than because they represented an ideal of beauty...

I personally had a piercing, and a tattoo, and I want a second one but I'll stop here!!
However, feel free to express yourself...

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