BY: AMY HABEN
I’ve listened to many non-apologetic interviews with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on living as a minority sex, the inspiration behind creating psychedelia, pseudo-reality and using other mediums to fill up the existential bubble. I feel very connected to Genesis, I live with similar feelings (as well as strained) philosophical questions and curiosities. It’s thrilling when an outsider artist is recognized by a mainstream institution such as the Rubin Museum. Genesis has been making avant-garde work for close to half a century.
S/he first achieved notice for creating COUM Transmissions artistic collective in England in 1969. As a trailblazer for Industrial music, s/he created legendary band Throbbing Gristle in 1976. Experimental group Psychic TV was birthed in ’81 between Alternative TV’s Alex Fergusson and Genesis. Members of PTV created the magic occult group/artistic collective known as Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth that same year. Members of Current 93 and Coil were also involved in TOPY. Psychic TV continues to blow minds with their performances today and is also very special to Genesis since that project is where h/er soul mate Lady Jaye came into play as a keyboardist and singer. They married in 1993, moving forward with the most colossal art project of their lives, becoming one.
My extensive psychological background sends signals throughout my Gray matter, evaluating the reasons Genesis decided to go through top surgery as well as countless facial surgeries to become more like wife Lady Jaye. Whatever the reason, it’s a beautiful marriage of life, art and love. The ideal relationship: creating together, supporting, and growing with each other. Lady Jaye unfortunately departed from this planet after a battle with Cancer in 2007. She spent her time on Earth being of service to people whether as a registered nurse, musician or as a dominatrix, she helped to relieve physical and mental pain. Genesis exists for both of them now and prefers to be referred to as, “We.” Existing as the Pandrogyne being they created together.
Hologram style portrait of a mash-up of Lady Jaye and Genesis’ features on top of a coffin.
I walked into the top floor of the Rubin Museum with excitement in my heart and a time limit on the clock as I had 15 minutes until I was to be kicked out. My friend Ruth and I had spent too much time viewing the Tibetan paintings on a lower floor. One method Genesis abides by is “the cut-up technique,” which is a Dada style collage. Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs popularized the style which cuts up texts to stitch back together differently, therefore throwing out old traditional rules. My first view was of a few collages showcasing mixed naked bodies, to the left were dark blood drippings on cloth. Possibly, an artifact of a surgery to remind the couple of the sacrifice they made for each other. In a pocket of the room, a still taxidermied bear head looked up with a blade pointing out of its mouth. Hanging above while continuously twisting was a wolf head looking down baring the same oral weapon, hungry for a knife fight that was just inches away from possibility.
Shadowbox containing photos of fish, dentures, and gold ball.
Visitors were encouraged to bring a symbolic offering as a donation to the exhibit. Each item was approved by Genesis h/er -self. Among the circular see-through cases were: dental molds, a real estate I.D. card, band buttons, keys, an unused tampon, etc… In return, the first 1,000 guests were gifted with a Psychick cross, which is a Christian cross combined with an upside down version of that cross as one symbol. This symbol is Genesis’ trademark, whether it’s worn by a fan of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle or psychedelic rock band Psychic TV, it exists as a comforting reminder that we aren’t alone. Other weirdos feel the same way, a sort of secret society along the lines of wearing a Lucifer back patch on your bomber jacket. On certain days, a red throne used by the P-Orridge’s to cuddle on, sits placidly on one side of the room with a working 1960’s telephone next to it. The curious would be connected with Genesis through a hotline to ask any questions their heart desires. The artist makes a note that people born after 1990, may need to Google how to use a rotary phone. (Hilarious… but true!)
An I.D. card offering from a visitor.
The Tibetan Buddhist rituals of kindness, love, pacifism, and spirituality has enthralled Genesis from the age of ten years old when h/er father gave h/er a copy of Seven Years in Tibet. The prominent idea of love and doing the right thing supersedes other religions which s/he feels have more political and social agendas. While traveling around Scotland with h/er daughters, Caresse and Genesse, s/he had a surreal experience after picking up a hitchhiking monk who disappeared in thin air after reaching his monastery of destination. A nun ran out and said Lama Yeshy had been waiting for them, who they never heard of. After staying there and meditating for a few days, Lama Yeshy suggested a retreat to Kathmandu, Nepal for a new perspective. Genesis described the feeling of arriving there to tripping on LSD, the lands vibrancy giving h/er a natural high unlike any other. Genesis used to believe that nothing happens after you die, that this reality is the only one. Kathmandu has compelled the beyond to materialize for h/er, granting a spiritual life and openness to other realms. Magical events came to fruition ever since h/er first visit there 30 years ago, which inspired this beautiful and blessed participatory experience.
Mixed media with goat skull.
When the security guards nicely asked us to leave, Ruth and I stopped by the front desk to give our offerings. The woman was gabbing on a personal call and the Rubin was officially shutting down, so we were anxious that we wouldn’t be able to contribute our gifts. When the worker paused her call for our question, she glanced at her watch and glared as if to say, “I’m off,” but I think our four yearning, puppy-esque eyeballs lent her pause and she accepted the donations. I gave an Alladdin Sane, Bowie pin, a Joey Ramone pin, along with an “I love Addy” button I took from my pal’s memorial. Lastly a button with angels was added to the group and I titled it, “People Who Have Passed.” Genesis will review it and make a decision whether or not to add it to the display.
Naked Genesis in a Christ like pose on gold leaf.
My friend and I walked away from this show feeling giddy and alive. We are planning our own event with musicians, artwork, and offerings this summer. You won’t want to miss this incredible artist’s spiritual journey…. as well as your own.
Locks of hair in a glass jug.
“Try To Altar Everything,” by Genesis Breyer P- Orridge will be on view at the Rubin Museum through August 1st.
– 150 West 17th Street, NY, NY 10011 – $15
Genesis gives some valuable love and life advice:
Inspiring talk on making music, and the beginning of h/er performance art career:
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