Gen's upcoming events and Misc.upcoming projects...

GENS MISC. UPCOMING PROJECTS: Heartworm Press are publishing “Collected Lyrics and Poems of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge – Volume One 1961 to 1971. Later they will publish Gen's first novel, written in 1969, “Mrs. Askwith”. Other books will follow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2001 "Candy factory" interview saved from Gen's Next-new-way-on website

This Circa 2001 "Candy factory" interview was included in the "the last museum" sub-site section on Gen's Next-new-way-on website,which focused on Gen's visual art.




Genesis P-Orridge: Up Against the Candy Factory Wall

Ordinarily it isn't news when an artist offers a show of new work in a traditional gallery setting. But Genesis P-Orridge is not an ordinary artist. For three decades he has been exploring new ways of presenting his vision outside of gallery walls. Calling himself a "cultural engineer", he has achieved iconic status in a variety of fields. Now he has his eye on the art world proper.

When I first met Mr. P-Orridge in 1974, he was editing an exhaustive encyclopedia of modern artists.(Contemporary Artists pub by St Martins thru Macmillans) As resumes poured in from all over the world, he regaled me with stories of who was doing what in the name of art. He was also producing mail art and performing all over Europe with his artist collective called Coum Transmissions. When one of his erotic postcards was seized by Scotland Yard in 1975; he turned the subsequent trial into a performance piece involving such luminaries as Bridget Riley; Allen Jones; Mark Boyle and William Burroughs. Later that year, work began on a show at the ICA in London called "Prostitution". The show thumbed its nose at the British art establishment, featuring pornographic images, used tampons and live mice. It also foreshadowed the controversy of the NEA four, as the show was produced with public funds. For weeks the tabloids had a field day and P-Orridge was headline news. One of these headlines became the title of a book about P-Orridge and his Coum associates: "Wreckers of Civilization".

It was during this show that P-Orridge and crew premiered their latest foray into performance art, a "band" called Throbbing Gristle. Punk rock was in its first bloom and record executives were falling all over themselves to sign the mysterious and cantankerous new "band". But this was performance art and they wanted to do it their way. They formed their own label and began releasing their own work along with that of other acts that were hard to characterize. True to their performance art roots, they played non-traditional venues with each performance lasting exactly one hour. They also released films and videos that had more to do with art than music.

In 1981, after the TG members had gone their separate ways, P-Orridge founded his own church. Besides the obvious tax advantages, he was afforded an opportunity to field study the effects of organized religion. A slow news day in the early 90's caused a new series of headlines, which forced him into exile from his native country. This also caused Scotland Yard to seize his considerable archives. He landed in the U.S. on the doorstep of Timothy Leary, who was no stranger to government persecution.

P-Orridge has traveled the globe and has been allowed to see things that aren't usually shown to western white people. He was a good friend to (filmmaker) Derek Jarman and was instrumental in the preservation of the archives of painter Brion Gysin (who exhibited in the first Surrealist show and later invented the cut-up technique employed by William Burroughs). His opinion is frequently sought by people who are seeking to make sense of cultural trends. His new show marks a return to gallery walls. We decided to catch up with him to see what he's doing and why he's doing it.

How do you currently perceive your relationship with the artworld?

In the beginning I had a romantic vision of the artist's labors being a divinely chosen activity equal to that of a doctor, or priest; a calling that was absolutely impossible to deny or refuse. As I began seriously making art in the form of expanded paintings, collages and kinetic installations and environments in the 60's I experienced a deeply painful distress at the sycophantic and self-serving, hypocritical and social "clique freak" foundations of the gallery scenes. Inevitably for years my art and relationship with the artworld became fueled by anger and indignation, satire and popularism as a result. Now I feel very much that a dynamic of mutual knowing seduction is the appropriate process and dialogue for all concerned. A maximization of reflective content and access for all seems to be the hors d'oeuvre of the day!

How have your methods changed over three decades?

Generally, at this stage in my art, I will conceptualize meticulously and thoroughly, approaching an intriguing idea from as many speculative directions as possible. I'll also engage other artists and non-artists in conversational speculation around the themes and even the words I am drawn to use and explore. Once the stage is reached where I maintain an aesthetic and effectual curiosity with the chosen theme I'll begin making works and, where once I would continue to "talk them up" so to speak, now as I witness their physical manifestation I conceptualize less and less until by the time of an exhibition the entire integrated piece, is for my part, non-verbal.

When did you decide you were an artist?

By 1965 I was reading books on Dada and Surrealism voraciously. I had free reign of the loft in my house, which I converted into a painting studio. There I experimented during all my free time teaching myself various styles and techniques with acrylics, water colors and with collages. To raise money for materials I would illustrate school magazines, church programs, design posters, paint ceramics, sunglasses, clocks, anything I could find in yard sales and junk shops to feed my media habit. Making art has remained a compulsive daily therapy and a sanctuary within which to study perceptual and aesthetic maps ever since.

What are the most important themes that your work deals with?

Sex. I very quickly intuited that art must aim to be all-inclusive. That no material or immaterial stone should be left unturned. As I privately began to use psycho-sexual dramas to decondition my SELF in order to move towards a state of aware neutrality where real personal choices and exposures of trauma, desire and compulsion were revealed, it became quite impossible to pretend that sex and sexuality and the expectations of gender were avoidable zones of expression. If I was to discuss a sensation, a taboo, if I was to neutralize the innate, and to me redundant and crippling core states of being and obsession, and, in both live actions and graphics illustrate these, then I must put my own body and sexuality into the frontline and retrieve the most unadulterated co-ordinates that located intersections of friction and dis-integration. The personality, for me, must comprise every possible and impossible sensory and imaginal experience. In the same way art must, without exception or dilution, include without fear of behavioral or physical damage or the judgement of any outside cabal, all aspects of the artist's evolving personality as the central raison d'être for creation.

Magic. I have a fundamental belief. A religious awe for the act of creation in all forms. I also believe that the manipulation of plastic materials, of all and any media, and the inclusion of life (the artist) and words (the universe) is a magickal act. Further, I would contend, based upon my own subjective, oft documented experiences to date, that art, and language are literally clusters of living energies. That we can assemble artifacts, images, commentaries and poetics that "make things happen" as William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin so wisely affirmed. I therefore approach the act of creation, no matter how mundane it might appear to the consensus reality and context, as a holy act suffused with immense responsibility. In a very real sense, the artist is defined and recognized as the closest being in our apparent material and linear world, to "Godlike". One reason that I return over and over to various interpretations of the cut-up, and assembling, a jigsaw-like process, is my faith in the power and joy of breaking linearity in order to contribute directly to the alteration of and re-direction of inherited reality models. In this sense we perform magickal acts from the moment of imagination, through stimulation, via speculation to creation.

Collaboration is not a sin - the third mind. There is a rather entrenched tradition in the contemporary artworld that individuality and a promotion of the appearance of uniqueness is an unquestionable and essential part of the repertoire of success. I feel fortunate to have grown up with art movements is my icons rather than any of their component artists. Dada and Surrealism, happenings and fluxus, and of course mail art during its most inspiring phase in the early 70's would be the key influential movements. (I would also include the Beatniks here as an art-like movement) I have been fortunate enough to interface with later fluxus activities via the touring FLUXSHOE exhibitions, with many fascinating artists through mail art and via FILE and General Idea in Toronto and, of course, with the Beatniks too. Where many might feel threatened by collaboration, and the possibility of immersion in a group manifestation and effect, I have always found collaboration exhilarating and creatively nutritious. I have a profound sense of connection to others and have received only clarity and inspiration from open dialogue and interaction with so many of these carefully chosen artists and associates. Burroughs and Gysin as they developed their visual techniques through cut-ups noticed a fascinating phenomenon, which they referred to as "The Third Mind". It appeared, consistently, that as they collaborated, passing works back and forth, extrapolating, that another, extra voice, quite other than their own, began to contribute, speak and reveal, even shape those works. This "being", this creative force, was owned by neither artist, nor answerable to them. To me, this third mind is the voice of random chance, of illogic, of something truly new and outside expectation. It is, for me, closer to the unique than any individual with buried expectations and agendas can ever hope to reach. If one is looking at a transcendent moral imperative, and an open artistic system and process as the corner-stones of the creative act, then collaboration is not a sin, it is a necessity. To seize the means of perception is my goal, for then we can change memory, and truly work in the present.


Inclusion of the human body.

The ability of an image to deceive based upon our assumptions about what it is and the information we are given regarding it and the possibility of directing reactions as a result of this.

Your new exhibition at TEAM Gallery in Chelsea is called "CANDY FACTORY". How are these themes addressed in this show?

Candy Factory is a totally integrated and balanced collaboration between myself and the radically innovative artist Eric Heist. The title evolved from a phone conversation with you (Skot) and led to the next stage of dialogue and speculation as to why the resonances of the title were so compelling. There is a lot of humor involved and multiple levels of metaphor and implication that we have discovered so far. No doubt others will recognize interpretations and precisions of reference that we have missed very much confirming the efficacy of collaboration. All the source images are Polaroid photographs from a series I began in the 70's using an SX70 camera and continued to this day. I had been patiently waiting for the images to "tell" me how they were to be used in a gallery context. Over the last 5 years my partner Miss Jackie had rejuvenated both the content and clarity of intent in these pollards. I realized that one theme they were revealing was a sexual one...the addiction of desire. Another was an ever more central concern of my art and thinking which was ambiguity, and the hermaphrodite as a symbol for a war on the over-riding binary polarization of both technology and consensus perception. Any either/or structure is anathema to me. In Nepal there is a discipline, considered by many the most rigorous, called Agori. This can be abbreviated to "the path of no distinction". The more recent the root images, the more androgynous and unspecific the information revealed and the more scattered and subjective the viewers interpretations. This process of the viewer's life and emotional residue dictating what they believe they see has never ceased to intrigue and excite me and is central to the way Candy Factory operates as All the images are processed in different manners, using sugar, silk screens, inks, paint, gold and aluminum leaf, mirrored mobiles, even tarp enclosed sculptures that change according to the adventurous intrusion of the viewer. Just as a lot of contemporary art might utilize knowing references to the art object, in our case we are more interested in the effect of knowingness related to the art person. Sugar is used as a metaphor, for the candy factory that is the residue and receptacle of sexual activity and carnal, adult desire; for the childhood fantasy of sensual appetite and desire realized; for the 70's integration of lifestyle, art, archetype and hedonism of Andy Warhol; for the mass visibility of androgyny and the romance of transgender display personified by Candy Darling and for many other modern reflections as culture folds in on itself in preparation for a next new way on of being. Eric Heist takes my raw materials and structures and then expands upon them, both conceptually, aesthetically and then literally by building them. In turn I will then decorate, adjust and amend his previous stage. This process goes back and forth until there is no separation or distinction between our roles or their plastic results.The entire show is like a jigsaw. Paintings that seem abstract become graphic as you move around and assemble various other works in one's mind. The exhibition can only exist completely in the memory and process of viewing. One enters through a 15-foot tunnel of sugar, illuminated by lightboxes containing Polaroid blow-ups. There are rugs that are woven of Polaroid images, hidden sculptures behind mirrors, large-scale "sugar paintings", a photographic series, even T-shirts, hard candy and coffee mugs. Miss Jackie has recorded a soundtrack for the Candy Factory and, of course there are addictive white powder references, sugar-cube sculptures falling from mirrors and mysteries galore. I feel that this is the most complete, fully integrated exhibition I have worked on so far as it contains a precise and meticulous unfolding of all my concerns where the balance between the whole and the parts is so perfect that the visitor is empowered to tip each and every scale from their eyes at any given moment. In a very real sense the Candy Factory has become forensic evidence of the continuing relevance and effectiveness of collaboration and the third mind principles. this time constructing a metaphorical environment where the viewer is placed as closely as possible into the ethereal role of neither creator, nor public, but by their presence becoming the intersecting point that is the only position that maintains the integrity and completion of the work itself. Thus we remove our selves from the center and they become through a necessity of collaboration the third mind.

Interview by SKOT ARMSTRONG Los Angeles 17th January 2001

This article will appear in COAGULA Magazine Feb 2001 Issue in a shorter form. SPECIAL THANKS TO TULSA AND ALL AT COAGULA for their support and interest.

All photos of Genesis P-Orridge and Miss Jackie copyright Skot Armstrong 2001.

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