Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE is not only known for h/er many contributions to music, poetry, and painting; the British artist has made life itself a work of shifting sculpture.
In the 1970s, when he was Genesis P-Orridge, the artist was a co-founder of COUM Transmissions, which spawned the iconic shock collective Throbbing Gristle. In the ’90s, he fell in love with Lady Jaye, and the two embarked on a pandrogyny project wherein they merged their genders and identities through cross-dressing, surgeries, and performance. The couple also shared the same name: Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE.
Since h/er involvement in the British Fluxus movement in the ’60s and ’70s, P-ORRIDGE worked with the likes of William S. Burroughs, and helped form the band/collective Psychic TV. Though the partner formally known as Lady Jaye passed away in 2007, Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE continues on as a vessel of the two, seeking a third gender in both art and life.
At Invisible Exports, a show of the artist’s collage works, Blue Blood Virus, is on view. The exhibition is an exploration of the h/er long metaphysical relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, a figure that P-Orridge has had a long fascination with. In the ’70s, when he still lived in England, P-Orridge attempted to send pornographic images of Queen Elizabeth and was charged with distributing “indecent and offensive material,” given a suspended prison sentence, and fined the maximum allowed by law.
This fascination is hinged on the long history of royal domination in Britain, both its symbolic and real weight. However, P-ORRIDGE’s interest in the Queen is not only steeped in distaste for the ruling class—the Queen is also treated with a measure of sympathy, seen as someone born into the elite structure–a physical and unwitting manifestation of the history of oppressive power.
In 1976, the British Parliament branded P-ORRIDGE a “wrecker of civilization.” In 2016, with Brexit and the national wave of nostalgia for empire, big questions loom about what British civilization actually looks like. Long a member of the transcontinental underground, P-ORRIDGE’s show is a timely meditation not only on gender identity, but on national identity too.
BREYER P-ORRIDGE: Blue Blood Virus
June 30 – July 30, 2016
89 Eldridge Street
New York, NY 10002