Friday, September 16, 2011
FIVE QUESTIONS from Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (born Neil Andrew Megson 22 February 1950) is an English singer-songwriter, musician, writer, and artist. P-Orridge's early confrontational performance work in COUM Transmissions in the late 1960s and early 1970s along with the industrial band Throbbing Gristle, which dealt with subjects such as prostitution, pornography, serial killers, occultism, and P-Orridge's own exploration of gender issues, generated controversy. Later musical work with Psychic TV received wider exposure, including some chart-topping singles. P-Orridge is credited on over 200 releases.
FIVE QUESTIONS from Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE
Q1. One could draw a line connecting your work to the “modern primitive” movement, Acid House, the industrial movement, punk rock, Timothy Leary, the Merry Pranksters, the Beat Generation all the way back to the Dada-ists. After 5 decades of artistic expression, including inspiring, creating and collaborating some of the aforementioned, where do you see your art going next?
In 1993 we met Lady Jaye. We have, as you say, met and collaborated with many amazing artists and literary figures in our journey. Derek Jarman, W.S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Ken Kesey, Dr Timothy Leary and a host more. We can honestly say, with hindsight and serious thought that Lady Jaye is the MOST remarkable human Being we have EVER met. From the beginning we began playful dressing up. We were the “Plague” for a reading at Jackie60!
We both believed in a direct karmic link between the Inquisitions and S&M Domination. The witches burned and tortured now wear the oppressors outfits and use their tools to torture males of power. Soon we were dressing the same, doing our hair the same. We saw our SELFs as two halves of a whole. Burroughs and Gysin credited their mutually created cut-ups with writing, photos and tape-recorders to a “THIRD MIND” that only existed as the union of the two of them through pieces of Creation. Lady Jaye and myself believe all that we create, and our very physical existence, when evidenced by our ever more determined rituals to integrate totally body and soul were a “THIRD BEING” which we called the Pandrogyne. A Positive Androgyne. Each of us was literally “The Other Half” of this being. The Alchemical hermaphrodite as storm troopers of a future in potentia. Burroughs asked me, how do you short circuit control? This led us via all kinds of scientific and consciousness exploration to conclude DNA is a probable contender for the location of control. We feel it is a recording device that goes back to single celled slime mold billions of years ago. Making it also the common denominator of “life”. We speculate that mitochondria could be the superior life form on earth and human beings are useful containers, deliberately given an unnecessarily short lifespan. We are hosts to this parasitic species. Where do the thoughts of DNA stop and our autonomous consciousness begin? By breeding constantly we unwittingly perpetuate our rival species who may have come from off earth.
NOW! We wanted to confound these little blighters. Our first act was a vasectomy. A denial of the continuance of DNA via my body. We see bodies more as a biological coral reef a congomerate of clusters with more than one agenda. Lady Jaye calls the body a cheap suitcase. We get discarded once our DNA has run its current programs. The human body is NOT SACRED! It is just a biological container for its precious cargo of consciousness. “YOU” and “I” are not the body itself. That is a container. “You” and “I” are the mind that resides within our cortices. Once we saw that DNA was a crucial sector of “control” we wanted to at least symbolically reject DNA and its usual control over exactly how our body looks and functions biologically. Which led us to cosmetic surgery procedures. The initial LOVE motivation of wanting to literally be physically consumed
by each other and so be able (we dreamed) of becoming ONE single being after we both drop our cheap suitcases. A single being the sum total of both consciousnesses fully integrated and still aware of an autonomous memory of itself and thus viable for infinite time and space, even dimensional travel together for eternity. We have worked with reincarnated Rinpoches from Tibet for many years and are convinced certain beings can remain identity intact after death AND return and get reborn to continue spiritual work on earth should they choose. Why not aim for the stars? Brion Gysin said we are here to go…we agree. The human species as it is now is still at a primitive, theoretically larval stage. We have so much more potential to grow and develop. Our technological environment is far advanced over our spiritual growth. This imbalance has led to totalitarian capitalism which unchecked will destroy all species ever more rapidly. If we DO move out to colonize space, Pandrogeny suggests we use science to find how to hibernate like bears, frogs and many other creatures. Long journeys would become feasible. Perhaps we could become cold blooded to save on heat in space. Become shorter, maybe short legs are all we need in space without gravity. In fact once you realize that this body we have is dictated by DNA without your say, and you let go of assuming this is the end of our evolutionary design, the possibilities become endless. Grow fur, feathers, gills to swim, horns for decoration. Many hued skin. We have become apathetic and inert. Entropy is a natural law, when we stop using our
imaginations for the most incredible dreams of new perception, we are on the slow road to extinction. So, now we’ve shed a small light on what was an intricate grueling but ecstatic journey Lady Jaye and my SELF made, we can tell you the answer to question
We see our works going ever more deeply into the genetic and biological research required to make people aware that “This time around you CAN be ANYBODY, with ANY BODY”. (Dr Timothy Leary with a slight addition).
My personal goal is to prepare myself mentally, spiritually and physically to drop my body and then, we pray, find Lady Jaye’s “consciousness” awaiting me. Then we shall flow happily into each others essence in total unconditional surrender to BIG LOVE
and become one “pandrogyne of pure mind” created from our two halves. Our work will metaphorically and literally always refer one way of another to this endless quest for moments of perfecting. Let our species awaken and perhaps begin to apply their massive resources to unifying our species instead of fragmenting it. We MUST start to truly see our SELF as one cell of a massive, beautiful organism called the Human Species. Once we perceive our SELF as a tiny part of a whole we would inevitably phase our conflict and be active only in the greater good. If food is needed it is supplied to the part of the species “body” that requires it. Once we see ourselves as totally integrated with every other person. Parts of a whole, like Lady Jaye and my SELF are parts of our whole too the likelihood of destructive and selfish choices diminishes.
VIVA LA EVOLUTION!!!
Q2. In 2009 “30 Years of Being Cut Up,” a retrospective of your collages was presented at Invisible-Exports and the Tate Gallery acquired 40 years’ worth of your art, writing, correspondence, video and audio. You have also lectured at universities and given talks at Rutgers. Do you feel you have now been accepted by the establishment?
There are days when we WISH we could “sell out” or whatever that is or how that is done we’ve never known. It is true we give Lectures sometimes at Colleges and Universities. Recently at MoMA in New York, Rutgers, and NYU. We have always
felt it vital for an artist to share both those who have inspired their path and work AND the conclusions and information they have retrieved during more extreme body and out of body experiences. Perhaps our explorations, some taken at risk, can be useful, functional or even just a flag saying “You are not alone” to a person in the boonies who is isolated, maybe picked on. So we accept talks to SHARE what we can IN CASE it is useful in some way, maybe even as a warning. The Establishment normally reward your surrender into their cabal with seductive invitations to power gatherings and soirees. They also funnel money to their favorites ( in the mediaeval sense of favorites). As long as young people come and tell me they are inspired or encouraged by my words we will continue to talk. We’d LOVE to begin teaching a seminar at NYU, or Columbus, any college in New York really. Any offers? So far we’ve not even been offered a degree or a blue “lived here” plaque on the old Funhouse in Prince Street, Hull…so it is a wary truce. But we are actually glad to be finally taken more seriously for our entire body of work rather than be cheaply dismissed for a miniscule number of more easily sensationalized moments decades ago.
Q3. In your early years, how did your parents react to your work?
We dropped out of Hull University after one year in 1969 and hitched to Islington to join David Medalla’s “Exploding Galaxy” commune. On the way to London we went and told my parents who’d sacrificed a lot to put me through a really good private education via scholarships. My mother cried a little and hoped we’d go back and “Get a degree first”. We refused. My father was angry. He only called me by phone ONE time between 1969 and his death in the late 90’s. When we changed our name to Genesis P-Orridge legally my mother cried a lot more! She saw it as a rejection of them and my ancestors. She too only phoned me once herself since then this year when she died at 92. However, during especially COUM Transmissions times she usually just said “OH Gen, is that really necessary?” So the first 20 years alienated both my parents. They found the endless sensationalist press embarrassing at social functions where all their friends knew all about what her naughty
son got up to. In the last decade or so she began to be very PROUD of my works. She would often say, “Well you were always 30 years ahead of your time dear,” It really changed when we curated a night at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Being pre-war generation she admired the Royal Family. So the Queens own theatre was a big deal. Then the Tate
Britain added my archives (what was left) to the National Collection and to her this was real vindication. She was always careful never to ask about the CONTENT though. My mother adored Lady Jaye and this mellowed her to me and our works together. She took tits and make-up in her stride, Not even blinking.
Q4. Has the concept of ‘Pandrogyny’ been welcomed by transgender community?
PANDROGENY is not about switching gender. It is about the deep ramifications of identity, social, economic, violent, political, religious conditioning however and about peer group and familial pressure too. Inevitably gender inequities are entwined irrevocably in all this. One way we try and explain the different emphasis Pandrogeny is more concerned with. Some people feel they are a woman trapped in a mans body. Some people fell they are a man trapped in a womans body. A Pandrogyne just feels trapped in a body.
We have little control, as yet, over length of life. If we could have our dream it would be to have a vagina, asshole, penis and breasts. We want it all! We also find binary systems anathema to radicalized evolutionary forces. The increase in visibility of the
transgender and transsexual, even intersexed community are all wonderful progress to us. And as we are almost always assumed to be a woman when out and about, we find it simpler to reinforce transexuality that way. By leading life 24x7 as a female appearing Pandrogyne we HAVE had bigots and thugs attack us. We suffer curb crawlers too with
hetero rape in mind. Don’t imagine it is easier to be pandrogenous. And we support all our GBLT communities 100%. Having said all that, it has so far ONLY been a small minority of transgendered people who have expressed disdain, even anger at us. The picture that some trans people see during transition is a holy grail perhaps of finally being a woman and being WHO THEY REALLY are. And we can see that there is a certain acceptance in terms of a stereotype of “woman” being imagined. It is so psychologically complicated. Just remember if you feel we blur the issues, we would be burned on the stake next to you if the fundamentalists got their way. And as an aside, personally, we identity as a female. But we are not bothering to change our voice or walk etc. We want to be an accumulation. A spanner in the identity machine. Nearer the beginning with Jaye
being as much alike and feminized was enough. NOW we see there’s a huge amount of work to do to end injustices, CHANGE human behavior for good and succeed in liberating our selves our bodies beyond gender and sexual stereotypes to a whole new evolutionary paradigm. Transsexuals, for reasons of protection and support, tend to form groups and take care of each other to varying degrees. Pandrogynes are ALL inclusive, the deepest nature and behaviors is our province. Can we CHANGE humans from self destruction, hypocrisy, fear and suppression from those in power?
We believe we can and Pandrogeny is one tool.
Q5. It struck me that, more than 30 years after a Tory member of Parliament seethed to the Daily Mail, “These people are the wreckers of civilization”, you still have the power to shock and confront people in a way that many of your contemporaries have lost. Do you think there are any artists/performers today who could carry the mantle of “Wreckers Of Civilization”?
We have felt slight twitchings of something happening. Go to our website www.truetopi.ning.com where we are trying to create a network with the primary reason for this ning is to brainstorm on the realities of setting up autonomous, creation driven (ie. Art etc) coum-unities. Who buys the land? Who owns it? How do you survive? Who cooks, cleans, gardens? Having lived in communes and collectives of various types most of my life we HAVE seen the best and worst of such experimental coum-unities. Our legacy, could we have one, would be to begin a long lasting web of small self motivating coum,-unities and retreats. Avoiding the myriad pitfalls that destroy nearly all communes in a year. As to specific artists who might be termed “Wreckers”….not so far. But that doesn’t mean they are not out there. However, our belief is the Individual, look at me!, ego sodden, uniquely inspired devoid of influences artists are less and less relevant. And as global structures collapse. Zones set up for shared pressures will also be collections of artists, musicians, writers, thinkers, mechanics, and lovers. VIVA LA EVOLUTION!!