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ORLAN, Harlequin Coat. Installation view at FACT.

Harlequin Coat (2008)

The Harlequin Coat is a multi-media installation involving live co-culturing of various cells from different species and ethnic origins (including those from the artist's own body) in a custom-made bioreactor, as well as a video projection of cell movies. The Harlequin Coat is a patchwork of diamond shapes; a comment on cultural crossbreeding and the potential of hybridising origins and species. ORLAN's skin coat takes as its point of departure Michel Serres' book The Troubadour of Knowledge, in which the Harlequin figures as a metaphor for multiculturalism.

Harlequin Coat relates to modifications previously achieved by the artist, on a digital and virtual level, in her Self-hybridation series; she repositions them in the sphere of real physiological design, pointing back to her early plastic surgeries in which ORLAN questioned dominant beauty canons.

ORLAN has been working with photography, video, sculpture, installation and performance since the mid-sixties; she is particularly notorious for her plastic surgery interventions of the early to mid nineties. The development of Harlequin Coat was made possible through a residency at SymbioticA in 2007.