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Genesis Breyer P-Orridge Portrait by Edley ODowd

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, the ever-changing artist and electronic musician who decades ago adopted the pronouns s/he and he/r and whose life-long work was to present he/r body and self as a medium, has died, aged 70. The artists daughters confirmed that P-Orridge died at home in New York after more than two years of battling leukemia. S/he had spent the past few years documenting he/r declining health on Instagram, and two days before he/r death, posted a self-portrait with a caption that read: “This is me today waiting to go home…”

P-Orridge was born Neil Andrew Megson in 1950, in Manchester, England. The artist conceived the identity of P-orridge around the age of 15, after encountering the surrealist collages of Max Ernst, which depicted the human form as a fluid entity rather than a predefined one. “We know that Neil Andrew Megson decided to create an artist, Genesis P-Orridge, and insert it into the culture,” Genesis said in a 2018 interview with the New York Times. “Some people take their lives and turn them into the equivalent of a work of art. So we invented Genesis, but Gen forgot Neil, really. Does that person still exist somewhere, or did Genesis gobble him up? We dont know the answer. But thank you, Neil.”

After dropping out of the University of Hull, P-Orridge formed the provocative performance art troupe COUM Transmissions, whose 1976 Prostitution exhibition at Londons Institute of Contemporary Arts was met with such harsh criticism that one member of Parliament famously referred to the group as “wreckers of civilisation”. COUM Transmission transformed into the band Throbbing Gristle, fronted by P-Orridge. The group coined the term “industrial music” to describe their abrasive, discordant tone, and went on to influence a whole genre of electronic performers such as Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, Marilyn Manson, and KMFDM.

A trip to New York in the early 1990s led P-Orridge to identify what become he/r lifes work—the “pandrogyne” project—with he/r wife Jacqueline Breyer P-Orridge, a nurse and dominatrix known as Lady Jaye. The two went through a series of body modifications to physically look more and more like one another.

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Breyer P-Orridge, Red Chair Posed (2008), C-print mounted on Plexiglas Image courtesy of New Discretions

“It began as very romantic; instead of having children, what if we made ourselves the new person?” P-Orridge said in a documentary, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye. “So we started to have cosmetic surgeries to look more like each other. We got breast implants together and woke up next to each other, holding hands.”

An influence for the pandrogyne project was the “cut-ups” practice of the poets William Boroughs and Brion Gysin, in which the two would collaboratively write and then declare that the resulting work was no longer by the two of them, but by a third mind. “So myself and Lady Jaye said, What if we decided to cut up ourselves, our personalities, our stories, even our bodies, and become a third being that is the two of us as one—that we really are only two halves of this one other being. So we decided to call that pandrogyne,” P-Orridge said in an interview. The project continued even after Lady Jayes death in 2007.

Throughout this, Genesis was also making sculptural and collage works that explored the some of the same questions posited by pandrogyne. An exhibition of these pieces was held at New Yorks Rubin Museum in 2016, and a review in the New York TimesRead More – Source

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