Worth Fighting For
Statue de la liberté – pose finale de la performance du mesuRAGE Remake des oeuvres exposées à l’ICC en 1980, 1980-2012
These rare early works by ORLAN bear witness to her ground-breaking 1970s performances in which she took her own body as an absolute reference. With that body as a measuring reference, she measured two different topics: cultural institutions and streets bearing the names of a male person. ORLAN does not opt for complaint but for visual conversation, a game in which one can participate, with a joy that concerns what is urgent whilst staying humorous. Orlan’s woman is emancipatory and strong. A woman who is in complete control of her body and destiny.
The performances of ORLAN in the 1970s are not only special in their content matter – a woman measuring masculine power in relation to herself – but also in their formal development. They wouldn’t have an audience but witnesses that would have to sign off. ORLAN would crawl on the floor and indicate each length with chalk. At the end of the measurement, she would wash the dress she had used for that, and enshrine samples of the dirt in tiny, sealed bottles. One of these she would then hold up in the way that the Statue of Liberty holds up a torch, with the water containing the dirt, being the outcome of her measuring exercise.