Genesis P-Orridge: Broken into pieces in order to be one body

We are talking about an extraordinary journey of the kind that rare people take. Genesis reincarnated itself daily with great courage to question the limits of existence on this journey.
April '22

It’s been a year since Genesis P-Orridge, as she put it, left her body. “It’s time to go home,” she said before saying goodbye to the world on March 14. She was too free to measure life by death. At the end of her journey, she had arrived home, home. So what was the journey like? To understand this a little, one should go back to the compassless journey of Genesis, as if we are entering to a map.

Throbbing Gristle

We are talking about an extraordinary journey of the kind that rare people take. Genesis reincarnated itself daily with great courage to question the limits of existence on this journey. S/he turned his life into an experiment, both internally and physically, and built a life on the edge. Their life in the squat, their experiments with psychedelics, styles, surgical body modifications, performances, pandrogyne project, adherence to the occult tradition, experiments with chaos/sex magic, wandering around the borders of dark and experimental music with Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, anti-cult movement Thee Temple ov His role in Psychick Youth and many more, s/he created non-codable flux. Flows that dare to stay in flux are decentralized, discontinuous, always changing shape and direction, irregular and subverting the solid structures they seep into. “I have spent my whole life provoking, poking, and exposing the pus-filled immoral side of the established social status quo,” Genesis wrote. “These people are the destroyers of civilization,” exclaimed Member of Parliament Nicholas Fairbairn in 1976. By this shout, he was referring to the four artists and musicians who later formed Throbbing Gristle, Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter Christopherson and Chris Carter. Along with the group, Genesis recorded nine studio albums and already was recognized as a pioneer of industrial music. In their own words, they were making “Industrial music for the industrial people”. Inspired by William S. Burroughs’ technique of interrupting reality, cut-up technique, they produced new sound experiments with the sounds of machines spinning mavericks, the cries of children, and many more. Of course, this auditory experience cannot be separated from the dynamics of their live performances. Sometimes even the music served as the background.

After Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981, Genesis formed the experimental group Psychic TV. Psychic TV continued Throbbing Gristle’s experiments by moving closer to the psychedelic realm, albeit less aggressively. Genesis later moved to the USA ─ what might be called exile, after investigations into allegations of satanic child abuse in a documentary. Here she met her partner, Lady Jaye. And Genesis P-Orridge, born Neil Megson, took the name Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in the process of transforming herself into Lady Jaye Breyer. It was 1993 and the first steps were taken towards a physical transformation project that they would eventually call pandrogyne. The duo underwent a series of surgeries to fuse themselves physically and psychedelically into a single entity. Both had implants in their cheeks, chin, and breasts to reverse their male-female identities. They documented this entire process and enriched it with poems and texts. Genesis used gender-neutral pronouns for themselves. Their purpose to be a single pandrogeneous being, two parts of one body, was a work of art and an unconventional declaration of love, but their project came to an end when Lady Jaye died of stomach cancer in 2007. With this project, they reversed all exclusionary segregation relations with a new gender model, beyond male and female, against the polarity of the two sexes. Lady Jaye explained it this way: “Some people feel like a man trapped in a female body, others feel like a woman trapped in a male body. Pandrogyne, on the other hand, feels confined to only one body.” Moreover, not only was the gender-identity issue upended, but the hierarchy of organs was also disappearing. “The whole point in life is to reunite with our own divinity,” Genesis was saying. Combined with all their actions, maybe it was a close stance on the soul-body relationship in Sufism; s/he had only reconciled with his soul and turned the focus to the skin.

Psychic TV, Berlin, 2016 (Photography: Ayşe Güngör)

They made us rethink the deterritorialized currents of desiring production through their love. There is no idea of incompleteness here. With Burroughs’ cut-up method, new axes, new flows, new discoveries are always created. Let’s listen to Deleuze and Guattari: “Our loves are complexes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. What we fall in love with is always a certain hybrid, male or female.” Supreme Hermaphrodite!

Let’s stop here and have a look. In these flows of free desire, who needs organs? Who can code, how can they represent two bodies that make their own body montages against the complete functioning of the body? Which body is able to set life free? How can a body be left behind? To become one body, we must divide it into hundreds of thousands of parts. That’s why Genesis disintegrated and reborn every day, and it’s been more than a year since Genesis’s soul was freed from the domination of the body. ✪


The peak of praxis: A small conversation about Institute Benjamenta


Le Seuil will publish Georges Perec’s unfinished Places