In my thesis, I argue that identity making of an individual in the postmodern society is a post-human model. By actions of transgression and mechanism of association, I suggest that a post-human is a becoming in the process of social and cultural construction and transformation.
Chapter one begins with my surgical experiences in order to probe into the problematic of identity making presented by Orlan’s operation/performance, The Reincarnation of St. Orlan (1990-1993). After an overview of Orlan’s early artworks, I review Carolee Schneemann’s Interior Scroll (1975) in order to present Orlan’s operating theatre of corporeal transformation and transgressiveness. Chapter two discusses the transgressiveness of Orlan’s facial transformation from two aspects: Making Beauty and Unmaking Beauty. In the first section, my main focus is Orlan’s role of an artist/patient, who enacts the relationship of woman’s body and art history under public gaze. In the second section, my main focus is the cosmetic surgeons’ role as medical performers who actuate the processes of unmaking Orlan’s body in The Reincarnation of St. Orlan. Visualizing the intertwinement between art and medicine, this chapter aims to present Orlan’s body and consciousness being the texts in The Reincarnation of St. Orlan and to problematize conventional application of cosmetic surgery as well as social/cultural standards about beauty. In chapter three, the focus is the close up of Orlan’s cut-open face in association with pain. While chapter two deals with transgression in terms of the intertwinement of identities and relationships of artist/patient and doctor/performers, chapter three deals with transgression beneath the wounds of painless pain from two aspects: Orlan’s rebellious body as “a split subject” (84) and “object” (here I mean as an art object to be gazed upon) and how viewers make senses of Orlan’s rebellious body by means of visual association. Sensitizing the viewers to pain with scenes of disavowal and contamination, the main argument in this chapter is how Orlan plays out a counter fashion of liminality: being “this-and-that.” Chapter four concludes this thesis by addressing the relevance of doing this project concerning post-capitalism and theology. With an aim to further the idea of integration in the alleged postmodern society, this thesis would like to highlight how body maneuvers and is maneuvered by impinging these two aspects.