Genesis P-Orridge

Posted: September 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Destroy all stereotypes

Who is Genesis P-Orridge?
Pushing the boundaries” could have been his motto. Artist, musician, performer and writer, born Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester, England in 1950.
He attended a private school where he immersed himself in literature, discovering the beatniks, Surrealism and particularly Dada. Then he studied Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Hull. It was during these years that the character of Genesis P-Orridge appeared. He released his first pressed recording Early Worm in 1968 under the name Genesis P-Orridge.


E Crazy Genius, 1977, letter, Crane/Friedman Correspondence Art Collection

In the late 60s and early 70s he was involved with COUM Transmissions, a performance art group heavily influenced by Dada. Their actions were overly sexually based, dealing with taboos and transgressions. It often included masturbation and having sex. The other major figure was Cosey Fanni Tutti, stripper and model for pornographic films. She incorporated her own image into collages she made in this period, investigating self-image.
In 1971, Genesis was already corresponding with Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs, who introduced him to artist Brion Gysin. Burroughs and Gysin had worked out the cut-up method which consists of cutting up and reassembling various fragments of sentences to give them a completely new and unexpected meaning. The cut-up has been a major influence for Genesis P-Orridge who has tried to deconstruct and reconstruct his own character, according to the cut-up method.
At some point, Genesis wanted to introduce sound in the performances and COUM morphed into Throbbing Gristle around 1975.


Throbbing Gristle, 1980, London, UK (photo: Industrial Records Ltd.)

The four members wanted the name ugly and having nothing to do with music: Throbbing Gristle is a slang term for erection. According to Genesis, the band was not about rock ‘n’ roll, but rather an empirical research he accomplished without reservation.
In 1976 the Prostitution show at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London caused debate in Parliament. P-Orridge and Tutti were proclaimed as “Wreckers of Civilisation“. The show displayed Tutti’s pornographic images from magazines, used Tampax in glass and included a stripper, transvestite guards and various people such as punks, people in costumes who were hired to mingle with the gallery audience.

Psychic TV was formed in 1981 with Alex Fergusson and long-time partner Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson (he was involved in both COUM and Throbbing Gristle). Prior to his musical career, Christopherson was a designer and photographer. He later directed music videos for Marc Almond, Paul McCartney, Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails amongst many others.
Psychic TV performed electronic and experimental music. The band released many albums with a large amount of contributors (Coil, Soft Cell, Derek Jarman, Timothy Leary, The Cult…) and even earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for most records released in one year. In 1992, Genesis and his family moved to California. The decision was taken after Genesis has been accused of “Satanic ritual abuse” for a video he created. It was time to leave England.

In 1993 he met and then married performance artist Jacqueline Breyer. She adopted the name Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge and the couple started to become mirror images of another. They applied the cut-up method to their own bodies to operate the mutation into a single pandrogynous being they called “Breyer P-Orridge“, with the help of plastic surgery and make up. Reverting the DNA of his own body could be seen as another act of rebellion from Genesis. Lady Jaye died in 2007 and Genesis chose to embrace the whole character on his own.


English Breakfast, 2002-2009, mixed media, Courtesy of Invisible Exports, NY

Genesis P-Orridge has exhibited in many art institutions around the world, including Centre Pompidou, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, White Columns, Barbican Museum, Deitch Projects.

Genesis P-Orridge is currently exhibiting at INVISIBLE-EXPORTS gallery, NYC. 30 years of being cut-up, until October 18 2009.
INVISIBLE-EXPORTS 14A Orchard Street, New York NY 10002