Body artist Orlan sues Lady Gaga

The French artist alleges the American singer plagiarised her look, and is seeking $31.7 million
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Lady Gaga (right) and Orlan (left)
Lady Gaga (right) and Orlan (left)

Orlan, the French sculptor, video, performance and body artist, has borrowed from other great works throughout her career. As we explain in our book, Art and Feminism, Orlan, whose real name is Mireille Suzanne Francette Porte, "has continued her longstanding concern with historical stereotypes of female beauty, through plastic surgery operations upon her own face. At each operation, one of the artist's features is transformed to resemble that of a famous art historical precedent, for example, Leonardo' da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Cumulatively, these transformations form a composite 'idea' physiognomy combining features from many works of art."

 

Orlan during one of her operations
Orlan during one of her operations

However, Orlan appears to be less happy seeing her own works crop up elsewhere. She is currently suing the American singer, Lady Gaga, as well as the French subsidiary of Universal records, for plagiarising her works.

Woman with a Head (1996) by Orlan
Woman with a Head (1996) by Orlan

Specifically, Orlan alleges that certain scenes in Gaga's 2011 Born This Way video, directed by British fashion photographer Nick Knight, took from Orlan's Woman With a Head work (1996). The offending image, of Gaga with a choice of decapitated heads, pops up around the 1:08 minute mark.

 

The suit also cites Orlan's 2009 work, Bump Load, a sculpture of Orlan with sub-dermal bodily implants (check out our forthcoming Wild Art book for more on this!). Gaga has worn what look like sub-dermal implants on her face and shoulders since 2011, and they featured on the Born This Way cover.

 

Bump Load (2009) by Orlan
Bump Load (2009) by Orlan

We aren't suitably versed in French law to work out whether Orlan has a strong case or not, but we hope both of these artists can sort out their differences, as we're fans of them both. For more on the story go here; and to learn more about Orlan's place within contemporary culture, please take a look at our Art and Feminism book.

 

Lady Gaga's Born This Way cover
Lady Gaga's Born This Way cover


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