The memory of a country is political, social and cultural. Its people isn’t an ethnic group but a construct elaborated through waves of migration. I worked with undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, first in Belgium and then in Marseilles, contacted by associations in order to be photo- graphed and filmed. The video shown in a loop in the Exile Pavilion was created in its initial version for the “Ici et ailleurs” exhibit during the Marseilles European Capital event (curated by Juliette Laffon). I asked immigrants from around the Mediterranean and settled in Marseilles to relate their crossing of the sea, their journey and their relationship with their country of origin. Then, taking my inspiration from the stories of their dis- placements, I hybridized with flags/sheets the entirety of the journeys accomplished. Superimposing them, I placed their portraits in the center of the image and played the hybridized flags in slow motion, hav- ing rendered the videos transparent in order to transform their faces and paint them one after the other. The result is a video in which each one of these individuals seems to be in the middle of a dream for change and a desire for displacement. Poetry and philosophy animate their faces differently and reveal their hopes, their thoughts and their pain.
Born in 1947 in Saint-Étienne, ORLAN lives and work in France. ORLAN based her artistic practice on the appropriation of aesthetic ideals of the past on which to reshape his body with plastic surgery. From the beginning of the 1990s, the French artist underwent continuous surgery to alter her face and body, choosing each time, from famous masterpieces of art from the Renaissance, the features to be assumed. She wanted to recreate the forehead of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the chin like that of the Venus by Botticelli. The artist stages operations as artistic installations, public performances often accompanied by music, poetry readings and dances. Polyhedral artist who ranges from performances to urban art, from installations to videos and sculpture, ORLAN has become the spokesperson for an entire artistic trend that claims the need to humanize the body.