GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE
cooper cole gallery
Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE (b. 1950, Manchester, UK) exemplifies what an artist could become when raised before the cynical machinations of late capitalism distorted our collective beliefs in the artist’s obligation to uphold integrity, resistance and sacrifice. Befriended and tutored by the likes of William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Timothy Leary, BREYER P-ORRIDGE is one of the last surviving inheritors of a truly radical, visionary tradition. As a living rebuke to the prevailing populist mediocrities of contemporary culture since the mid-70s, s/he has remained perennially relevant ever since s/he first blazed the trail for a rethink of the entire musical landscape as part of the legendarily confrontational quartet, Throbbing Gristle.
BREYER P-ORRIDGE has, in every incarnation, remained a dedicated visual artist. As a pioneer of the early Mail Art movement, s/he has created a body of work encompassing sculpture, drawing, design, video, photography, poetry, performance, and expanded collage. H/er artistic contributions have been noted and lauded in hundreds of books and publications, yet s/he still remains chiefly sought-after by the most forward-thinking collectors and progressive institutions. For modern minds, half-melted by the barrage of online over-stimulation, it’s worth a reminder that many of BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s artworks were considered taboo-breaking in the extreme; not merely in their portrayal of sexuality, but for their portrayal of love. Collaborating with h/er wife, Jaqueline ‘Lady Jaye’ BREYER P-ORRIDGE (1969-2007), they embarked on a plan to undo the binaries that limit so much of our thinking by putting their bodies, quite literally, on the line. Through a series of surgeries, Genesis and Lady Jaye progressively moved towards becoming each other; a collective being, neither female nor male, that could escape the labels the world cattle-brands us with. They called this new being a pandrogyne, and many of the works in this exhibition are taken from this transformative phase, when BREYER P-ORRIDGE (their collective name) worked as a duo, using artworks to document their escape from our limited, binary hell into a quaquaversal, pandrogyne heaven.
The photographs, collages and sculptures easily evoke wonderfully perverted aesthetes like Pierre Molinier, the more paraphiliac byways of surrealism and Dada, replete with distinctly 60s and 80s motifs. Yet there’s an enduring connection to the broader world in these pieces, something that stretches outside the bounds of the perpetual backwash of contemporary art. In many of the works BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s longstanding relationship with traditional spiritual practices comes to the fore. The multi-faith spiritual cultures of Nepal (where s/he frequently traveled to aid refugees, befriending many of the monks, sadhus and other holy people), psychedelics, and other forms of psychic and emotional re-orientation spike the works with something that makes them more than mere visual art.
Amid the licentiousness and joy inherent in these pieces there is also an undeniable current of tragedy. In 2007, Lady Jaye shed her body, leaving her heartbroken other half to continue their legacy. No matter how close one might be with one’s family, spouse or lover, there is no denying that the connection that Genesis and Jaye shared was unique. In its fearlessness, their relationship stands as a testament to unselfish romantic love, and to the lengths people might go to fully understand and love one another. Not only another, but to love and become The Other, and perhaps this is what gives BREYER P-ORRIDGE such startling, continued relevance.
– Scott Treleaven, 2018
Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE (b. 1950, Manchester, UK) is an English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, performance artist, and occultist. After rising to notability as the founder of the COUM Transmissions artistic collective and then fronting the industrial band Throbbing Gristle, BREYER P-ORRIDGE was a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth occult group, and fronted the experimental band Psychic TV. BREYER P-ORRIDGE has been cited as an icon within the avant-garde art scene, accrued a cult following, and been given the moniker of the "Godperson of Industrial Music". Select solo exhibitions include Invisible-Exports, Participant Inc., TEAM Gallery, The Rubin Museum, New York; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg; Los Angeles Institute Of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles, USA; Galerie Bernhard, Zurich, Switzerland; Christine Konig Galerie, Vienna, Austria; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium; Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany; Institute Of Contempoary Arts, Royal College Of Art, London, UK. P-Orridge's works can be found in collections such as The Getty Museum Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Tate, Arts Council of Great Britain, London, UK; Museo d'Arte Moderna, Caracas, Venezuela; amongst others. Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE currenly lives in New York, USA.
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