Musician, poet and artist Genesis P-Orridge is a legendary, transgressive counter-cultural icon and a pioneer of radical performance. S/he has been singular in h/er ability to “personify the communion of art and life” and unprecedented in h/er “prophetic groundwork in dissolving binaries – between physical and spiritual, sacred and profane, and even life and death” (Patrik Sandberg, Dazed).
P-Orridge, born Neil Andrew Megson, grew up in a musical household in England and concerned h/erself with art and occultism from an early age. S/he formed the British art collective COUM Transmissions in the 1960s together with artist Cosi Fanni Tutti. H/er history of iconoclasm began then, when the collective was scandalized for a shocking, pornographic happening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and continued with further happenings involving blood and excrement and with h/er own x-rated collage depictions of Queen Elizabeth II. In the early 1970s, P-Orridge and Cosi Fanni Tutti went on to form Throbbing Gristle together with Cosey’s partner Chris Carter. As a member of this seminal band, P-Orridge contributed shock tactics and performance art with subversive, hybrid aesthetics, thus helping to define the nascent industrial genre as an adventurous and edgy one. In the 1980s, P-Orridge experimented with magick, occultism and religious cultism together with the bands or “fellowships” Psychic TV and Temple ov Psychick Youth.
In recent years, the transgressions that have most significantly contributed to P-Orridge’s status a cult figure are those that s/he has made across barriers between established notions of gender and identity. S/he met the performance artist Lady Jaye Breyer in the nineties. Together the legendary couple moved to New York and began a lifelong project of “pandrogeny”—influenced by the technique of collaging, the two aimed to reach a point at which male and female were represented in each of their bodies. Breyer and P-Orridge underwent numerous cosmetic, surgical, and medical treatments in order to approximate one another, thus finally merging into a single pandrogynous being named Breyer P-Orridge. Lady Jaye’s untimely death in 2007 triggered a long cycle of grief for h/er partner. Hazel McCarthy’s film Bight of the Twin traces McCarthy and P-Orridge’s search to reconnect with Lady Jaye’s spirit through a voodoo-based twin cult in Benin.