"We've got an ox on our tongue," says sociologist of science Bruno Latour when audiences at his colloquia clam up. "Let's get rid of the ox."
So: an ox on the tongue, as the exhibition title puts it, or the impossibility of expressing one's thoughts and feelings. ORLAN's title is a sly dig, a summons to talk and discuss.
From 1 June to 25 September ORLAN will be showing a new, site-specific installation in the Chapelle de l’Oratoire at the Musée des Beaux-arts of Nantes. She'll be transforming the venue into a free speech forum focusing on terms which, right now, can speed thought up: Le tout monde, dérèglement, cellule souche, athée, phagothérapie, surfemme, empêchement, action, trouble, symbiotique, dire, sensualité, collectif, singularité, escronomie, appartenance, consentement, responsabilité, discordance, radioactivité.
Her installation presents a body concealed by a long, black piece of fabric and a dozen life-size sculptures, characters carrying, brandishing and playing with words that have their own powerful presence within the space.
The moment they step inside the chapel visitors are confronted with a disturbing black female outline, set on a raised, sloping platform in the centre. The sides of the platform are covered with a specially designed cloth printed with images of viruses, bacteria and cells – as a metaphor of the body – and with phages and words.
Haloed with light, this central figure calls on visitors to move towards the free speech area in the choir. The black fabric concealing the figure can be see as the weight of a veil blanketing the whole of humanity.
In the transepts two video projections point up ORLAN's sources of inspiration for an installation that represents a brand new development in her work.
In the choir, situated at the far end of the nave, are interlocking chairs designed by ORLAN. In this free speech space each viewer will be able to get rid of the "ox on his tongue" by improvising freely and/or taking part in discussions.