Monday 16 April 2012

Beauty In Discussion: Katie Price Vs Orlan

In the world of art the concept of beauty has been a popular topic to explore, often being the basis of many creations and ideas. In this discussion I will be comparing the idea of glamour (Katie Price, former glamour model known as Jordan) Vs art (Orlan, a eccentric French artist known for her unusual performance art) and their methods of beauty modifications in relation to conformity.

Katie Price (Glamour) Vs Orlan (Art)

After reading the Guardian's article on Orlan's work (Orlan's art of sex and surgery) and the BBC video interviewing Katie Price (Price: Breast implants 'need age limit'), the discussion on the concept of beauty and using cosmetic surgery as a means to alter a person’s appearance is certainly interesting with varying viewpoints.

Orlan's work can be seen as extremist especially in her unorthodox ways of presenting her ideas through art in particular her performance art. She is renowned for her many cosmetic alterations to her face where she has 'altered her mouth to imitate that of François Boucher's Europa, another changed her forehead to mimic the protruding brow of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, while yet another altered her chin to look like that of Botticelli's Venus.' (The Guardian) The idea of filming herself conscious in the operating theatre is hard to digest particularly as no other artist has done this before. Many people see this as crazy and that she's taken 'art' too far, however this raises questions such as 'what is art?'. Personally I find her work interesting especially her concepts but I am put off by her method of execution as I am not too keen on conceptual performance art as I am not as appreciative of this form. It is rather eccentric and radical.

Still from Orlan, Carnal Art by Stephen Oriach

The fact that Orlan is strong rooted in her feminist beliefs makes her work much more powerful and without this the concept of beauty would be completely changed. Beauty through female eyes are perceived and received differently than the man's. I like how Orlan challenges the idea of 'what is beautiful' and by representing her concepts by physically altering her body, she not only goes to show that the human body is a canvas but makes you think of ideas of conforming to a social norm (the standardized beauty, if there is one?) and whether cosmetic surgery really does make you beautiful.

In relation to glamour (Katie Price) Vs art (Orlan) their concepts and procedure are the same yet the perception is completely different. Stereotypically men would find Katie more appealing after her breast implants etc, as large breasts, blonde hair, small waist etc. is the 'comic-book' image of an ideal desirable woman whereas Orlan has created a protruding brow etc. which isn't seen as beautiful. Perhaps if society was socialized in accepting protruding brows as being desirable more men would find Orlan attractive. This debate returns to the idea of 'Standardized idea of beauty' Vs 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'.

In conclusion there isn't any difference between the idea of altering your appearance to 'conform' to a particular ideal of beauty whether it's Katie Price or Orlan doing it, the question that is being asked is 'Conformity to the majority or minority?'

(This discussion has been a response to my Photography degree forum on 'Orlan: Narcissist or Cultural commentator?)

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