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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

COUM Transmissions write up by Tate Modern

preface from Genesis...

This text on COUM Transmissions compounds an often re-iterated misconception about COUM Transmissions.

For the sake of Astorical accuracy only, we add this correction.

COUM Transmissions was received as a series of visions by Genesis (Breyer) P-Orridge in Shrewsbury, Shropshire late Summer of 1969. Genesis founded COUM Transmissions as an art project alone. There were NO co-founders. He had never met, nor heard of Christine Carol Newby (later Christened Cosmosis by Genesis) at that time. The original members of COUM Transmissions were G P-O and John Jesus Shapeero. Later on Dr Timothy poston, Ian "Spydee" Evetts, Peter "Pinglewad" Winstanley all became members. Cosey began her connection with COUM Transmissions performances around 1971-72. She had however, always supported Genesis and COUM both conceptually as a member of the "Coumunity" at the HoHo Funhouse and functionally creating costumes and props. After beginning to also take part in street actions and arts festival performances she grew to add a unique and powerful element and became an integral aspect of the ever more intimate and extreme actions of COUM Transmissions. A perfect foil in the later explorations of sexuality, gender and stereotypes.

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge NYC 2011.

From Europes largest Art Magazine...
Handbill for COUM Transmissions' 'Prostitution' exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, October 1976

Courtesy Tate Archive

Lizzie Carey-Thomas on COUM Transmissions

“Public money is being wasted here to destroy the morality of society. These people are the wreckers of civilisation,” wrote Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn in the Daily Mail on 19 October 1976. The subject of his tirade was the performance-art group COUM Transmissions and its recently opened, now infamous exhibition ‘Prostitution’ at the ICA, London. COUM, formed in Hull in 1969 by Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti, had begun life as a band, but gained notoriety throughout the early 1970s for its taboo-breaking direct “actions”. Its founders’ antagonistic approach often brought them into conflict with the law, the most well-documented of which was P-Orridge’s indecent postcard trial of April 1976. Hijacking the trial as an art event under the title ‘G.P.O v. G-P.O’, complete with invitation cards, he subsequently announced: “What E [sic] am interested in now is that point where Art meets Life and fuses, dispersing art and enhancing life.”

While ‘Prostitution’ ran for only eight days at the ICA, it received a hostile and widespread reaction from the national press, who saw its contents as a deliberate assault on the moral and artistic values of the time. Alongside photographs of COUM performances and related press cuttings (including those levelled at the show), the exhibition included used tampons sculptures, props from past “actions” and framed pages of pornographic magazines from Tutti’s modelling career, available upon request.

Nineteen seventy-six had been a difficult year for contemporary art in Britain, which found itself facing an increasingly sceptical press during a period of all-time economic lows. Since the furore over Tate’s purchase of Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII (the “Tate Bricks”) in February, public subsidy of the arts had been forensically examined, and some critics were quick to see ‘Prostitution’ as further evidence of waning standards and a threat to societal values. In a typically agile move, the show was to be both the culmination and death of COUM’s art-related activities – the duo relaunched themselves at the opening as industrial band Throbbing Gristle, abandoning the art establishment altogether.

- Archive material on COUM Transmissions and 'Prostitution' has been selected from the Genesis P-Orridge archive held at Tate and a private collection.

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