Genesis BREYER P - ORRIDGE Love is the most powerful experience By Amalia Piccinini For several months I wanted to meet one of the most influential artists of the art’s world scene and undoubtedly one of the most intriguing people who live in New York.
The opportunity came after seeing her exhibition "I"M MORTALITY" at the gallery Invisible-Exports in the Lower East Side. I have an appointment at three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon with Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE, s/he arrives on time in the gallery, back from Australia and tired from the long flight, kindly asked me a few minutes to send few e-mails.
Occasionally s/he looks up and studies me, I study her in turn, s/he has very beautiful eyes, at one point s/he asked me if I know the age of her daughters. Many of you have listened to records, or perhaps have been at some of her concerts from 1975 to 1981 when she was a pioneer of industrial music with her group Throbbing Gristle and later in the acid house band Psychic TV from 1981 to 1999.
But her career is not only related to music. Eclectic and experimental artist, singer, musician, pioneer of the Fluxus movement in England, writer and performer, Genesis founded the art group COUM Transmissions in 1969, and over the years s/he investigated issues such as prostitution, pornography, the occult, serial killers, shamanism, and her own exploration of identity and gender. In recent years, with her second wife, and "Other Half" Lady Jaye (who died in 2007) already well-known in an extreme club of New York as a performance artist, s/he began a long experiment on her body that might be called romantic but also scary at the same time. Deeply affected by the cut-up technique invented by Brion Gysin and writer William S. Burroughs (both close friends and collaborators of the couple) they used the cut-up on identity, behavior, and the idea of a merger of two bodies, with the mutual desire to create a third being defined by them as a Pandrogyne.
"Jaye and I were madly in love, we wanted to merge together, to eat each other up,to consume each other, so it was natural for us to want to become a single being through plastic surgery, hormone treatments, make-up, having the same hair and clothes, even shoes, exchange of blood and clothing. We even began saving our hair, skin, finger and toenails, any teeth we lost in two African boxes as a "DNA Cloning Bank". It may seem very extreme, but for us it was the kind of absolute, unconditional love we wanted together. There are couples who feel they meld through a simultaneous orgasm, or through the birth of a child. We were looking for the next step, the Pandrogyne, an evolution, I wanted to be totally absorbed into my wife and s/he me "
Meanwhile her homeland England, (who had called her a "wrecker of civilization"), then had to admit and recognize the innovation and the immense contribution that s/he has added to culture, art and the history of music. In fact, the Tate Britain now has in its permanent collection the complete archives of the work of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.
Inside the long, narrow gallery Invisible-Exports, Genesis is describing to me from work after work the secrets of her art, honored by having the opportunity to do a real tour with her (today she called herself she) I listen to it while she is getting moved in front of the work "Blood Bunny ."
A small wooden rabbit purchased in Mexico, it becomes almost a third being, it is heavily spotted with stains of blood from Genesis and Lady Jaye and has a ponytail formed from Lady Jaye's hair. A sculpture that according to Genesis, but also to Risa, the young gallerist, contains and transmits the presence of Lady Jaye. "It 's always here with us, isn’t true Genesis? Oh yeah, I'm always feeling her close, "says Risa visibly touched. I am struck by the exchange of feelings between them, a bit out of their feeling, but without doubt aware of the presence of Lady Jaye in the gallery, I put my only question to Genesis, for the rest will always be her talking to me generously of details.
Do you think that through your long and eclectic career, love was the most important and powerful experience?
Genesis P - Orridge:
Definitely. In my career and in life. I tried to explain this thing to some friends who for some reason could not accept it and wanted to live their life in a cold and detached way from love and fondness.
William S. Burroughs was in part rejecting the idea of love, he had to survive a family tragedy that he was responsible for the death of his wife he accidentally killed by a gunshot and then the disappearance of his son into alcohol abuse and drugs in a desperate search to get closer to his father.
Only late in life, full of guilt, was Burroughs finally able to admit to himself that love is the most important thing, in his diary, in the last page, we were reading the last words written with a trembling hand in a shaky scribble, he wrote "Now I understand that all that matters is love". Or something very close to those words. I am so happy that in the end, he eventually got to think about this gap that has tormented him throughout his life. It’s so important to have realized the power of this feeling. Struck from the last word of Burroughs (an author whose work I have tried to study for years, not without difficulty) and privileged to hear directly from Genesis something so intimate, rather than read it in countless biographies and stories that surround the writer, we move together to a work for me visually very strong, "Alchymical Wedding ."
For 19 years, in three circular globe containers of glass, each closed with a cork, Genesis and Lady Jaye had kept their nails, hair, pubic hair, and skin, creating three organic sculptures.
The sculpture in the center contains elements of both and represents the Pandrogyne, while those at the sides hold separately the individual artists body materials.
Here too, a third being presented in the form of sculpture and collage. All works that are in the gallery, have one thing in common, they are simple and complex at the same time, all of them are also visually elegant but at the same time the primal contents could disturb. All are solid and illusory, using layers, reflections and light to imply mortality and immortality.
The photo titled "Coagularis " may at first disturb the view of the visitor, but if you look carefully, there is a sense of peace and mystery. It represent Genesis after having a breast implant, there isn’t any sense of physical pain, even if there are swollen areas, the body floats in space accomplice and witness of a wanted and desired transformation.
"The physical pain has never been a problem for me," says Genesis Seraphicly. I then reflect inside of myself, that Genesis is the one who anticipated so many cultural things, piercings, tattoos, body art, Industrial music, Acid House, even camouflage as fashion. It is not an accident, that at the opening, the gallery was packed with young people, those young people who grew up with her ideas and have imitated some of her look. A look hard to follow because it"s always changing, as well as her body and face.
During the opening and in the video "Blood Sacrifice, 1993-2012 " , s/he was wearing a orange dress inspired by her trip in Nepal, but right now has a jeans jacket and sneakers, rings,shamanic Naga necklaces, blond hair and a smile with all solid gold teeth. I am surrounded by Breyer P-Orridge's collaborative works that testify to their many stages of surgical operations, exchange of blood, bodily sacrifices, mystic ritual, genetics, science, evolution, reincarnation even spiritual peace .
Yet I am totally comfortable, there is a surprising sense of quietness in the gallery, Genesis, who used to scream from the stage and that has inspired generations of musicians and performers, is speaking to me in a calm and persuasive voice about love, of not being afraid to love, even in extreme ways if it’s what we feel, as together we watch one of their most intense work: two bottles of perfume Chanel N.5 containing the blood of Genesis and Lady Jaye creating spontaneous stains in a Tibetan prayer scarf blessed by the Karmarpa With only a deep regret of not having met Lady Jaye, I say thank you for giving me so much time, s/he gives me a wink. I leave the gallery and I walk across Orchard Street thinking I will never forget this afternoon in New York with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and, of course, Lady Jaye.