Further information

Country of origin




ORLAN is an internationally renowned French artist who has been active in photography, video, sculpture, installations and performance since 1965.


She wrote the Carnal Art Manifesto, and from 1990 to 1993 conducted a series of nine surgery-performances in which she refigured her face and created new images referring to non-Western cultures.

During her residency at SymbioticA she developed the Harlequin Coat.

Research project

Harlequin Coat

Harlequin Coat presented the realisation of a composite, organic coat, made from an assemblage of pieces of skin of different colours, ages and origins

This prototype of a biotechnological coat, consisting of in vitro skins in coloured diamond shaped petri dishes, was made to symbolise cultural crossbreeding. This project continued ORLAN's investigation into hybridisation using digital photography. Her series, entitled Self-Hybridation: Précolombienne, Self-Hybridation: Africaine and Self-Hybridation: Indiens dAmérique endeavoured to crossbreed beauty canons of other cultures and other media (sculpture, photography, painting) with the artists own image.

The Harlequin Coat project developed and continued the idea of crossbreeding and hybridisation, using the more carnal medium of skin cells. This work on the figure of the Harlequin was inspired by the text "Laicité" written by French Philosopher Michel Serres, in which he used the Harlequin as a metaphor for multiculturalism.

Harlequin Coat seeks to raise various questions: "Can skins of different colours be cultivated? What kind of information can be obtained from the donors? Can a person still be the owner of his or her cells? Does self-ownership continue to exist at the fragmented level? How are such issues perceived in various countries, and especially in the context of a non-western viewpoint?

As part of her residency ORLAN gave a Institute of Advanced Studies public lecture as well as a lecture series at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts.


ORLAN's residency was supported by:

  • Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Art at The University of Western Australia.
  • FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology Liverpool
  • Alliance Francaise de Perth
  • French Embassy Sydney
  • CulturesFrance
  • Institute of Advanced Studies at The University of Western Australia
Period of research

July - October 2007