BREYER P-ORRIDGE: We Are But One is the first major posthumous presentation within the United States of musician, writer, occultist, cultural engineer, and visual artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (1950-2020) and he/r romantic partner Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge (1969-2007). On view at Pioneer Works at Red Hook Labs, the exhibition offers an intimate look at the artists' Pandrogyne project, a nearly two-decade endeavor to liberate love and pure consciousness from the confines of a gender conforming body.
Influenced by the cut-up technique of Brion Gysin, the duo officially initiated the project on Valentine’s Day in 2003, undergoing their first plastic surgery together in an effort to transition to their “angelic bodies”—a single ‘pandrogynous’ being named BREYER P-ORRIDGE. The concept was twofold: first, plastic surgery represented a symbolic act of defiance against one’s DNA, and a rupture to the limitations imposed by biology; second, Pandrogyne was the physical manifestation of loving someone so deeply that you wanted to become that person. Throughout he/r practice, Genesis blended pronouns and used performance, collage, body modification, photography and contemporary magical tropes to disrupt longstanding preconceptions of psychology, sexuality and spirituality.
Curated by the artist’s longtime gallerist and friend Benjamin Tischer, the exhibition provides a rare glimpse into BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s ambitious vision for the project, which disrupted the status quo and defied all gender norms. As visitors enter, they encounter a new, shrine-like sculptural installation created by Genesis’s daughter Genesse P-Orridge and Pioneer Works. “My intention with this Shrine is to create a space for reverence and reflection centered around the inspirational life my father led,” she says. “The Shrine will incorporate relics and sacred items from my father’s personal altar which s/he collected from he/r travels to spiritually vibrant areas like Benin and Nepal, as well as leftover materials from he/r own sculpture creations, and gold leaf—a favored material in he/r practice, which we often used when collaborating on art pieces while I was growing up.”
The dome-shaped installation takes inspiration from the Buddhist stupas that Genesse and Genesis visited during their formative travels in the Himalayan region. Four window-like openings reveal one of BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s Pandrogyne artworks inside. Atop the structure is a tower with 23—instead of the traditional 13—tiers, in alignment with Genesis’s lifelong fascination with the number, inspired by he/r mentors Gysin and William S. Burroughs.
Adjacent to this installation is a newly unearthed and edited video titled Thee Whispering Began, a collaboration conceived and executed with digital artist Sam Zimmerman in 2003. The video gave birth to a body of free-form, spontaneous drawings, in which words are blended together in exploration of Pandrogeny. Also on view are a wide-ranging selection of archival footage, videos—by BREYER P-ORRIDGE as well as Nicolas Jenkins, Marie Losier, and Scott Treleaven—sculptures and works on paper, to provide further context to the artists’ infamous projects: for instance, Polaroids documenting surgical modifications, and mixed media collages that demonstrate their deviance from sexual convention.
Tischer first met Genesis as a producer of the documentary film Cut-Up Concert, and was subsequently hired to organize an extensive archive which was acquired by the Tate Modern. His former gallery, INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, championed the artist’s practice over the past 14 years. Of the impetus behind this exhibition, he notes, “While sick, Genesis talked of wanting a show that focused just on her Pandrogyne project with Lady Jaye. S/he, correctly in my opinion, thought that people were just now catching up with what they were trying to do and its importance.”
The exhibition is presented in tandem with a series of concerts and related programs organized in partnership with Ryan Martin of Dais Records, an independent label that released numerous records with Genesis in he/r lifetime. Programming will include a film screening, selected by Jacqueline Castel (A Message From The Temple), and performances by Ov Stars (a Psychic TV tribute set featuring past members), Dreamcrusher, Hiro Kone, James Hoff, and more special guests to be announced.
We Are But One follows a long history of engagement between Genesis and Pioneer Works. An early Advisory Board member of the organization, s/he taught an eight-part class on art as a manifestation of spiritual quest and shared perception in 2015–the same year that Psychic TV performed; in 2018, the artist participated in Dream Machine, a live reimagining of Bryon Gysin and William Burroughs’s experiential invention. Taken as a whole, the exhibition and its related programming pay tribute to BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s lasting influence, following Lady Jaye and Genesis’s deaths in, respectively, 2007 and 2020.
Thursday, May 26: We Are But One: Archival Screenings by Jacqueline Castel
Thursday, Jun 30: Hiro Kone, James Hoff, and Ov Stars (members of Psychic TV)
Thursday, Jul 7: Drew McDowall, Dreamcrusher, and Tval
Sunday, Jul 10: BREYER P-ORRIDGE: We Are But One Panel Discussion
About the Artists
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (b. 1950 in Manchester England; d. 2020 in New York, NY) has exhibited in museums and galleries across the globe, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; Tate Britain, London, UK; Deitch Projects, New York, NY; the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; The Serpentine Galleries, London, UK; MoMA PS1, New York, NY; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; and The Rubin, New York, NY; among many others. Alongside he/r visual art practice, Breyer P-Orridge founded the performance collective COUM Transmissions in 1969, which spawned the seminal Industrial band Throbbing Gristle in 1976. S/he was also a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth occult group, and fronted the experimental pop rock band Psychic TV. He/r archives are part of the Tate’s permanent collection.
Jacqueline "Lady Jaye" Breyer P-Orridge (b. 1969 and d. 2007 in New York, NY) was a nurse, dominatrix, performance artist, keyboard player and singer on PTV3, a refreshed version of Psychic TV, and Thee Majesty. In 1993, she married Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and, borrowing from a character from the GI Joe comic series, named herself Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge as part of the Pandrogyne project, in which the duo outwardly assimilated themselves into a single person.
About the Curator
Formerly co-owner of the gallery INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, Benjamin Tischer is an independent curator, art advisor, and private dealer operating under the moniker New Discretions. New Discretions works with the estates of BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Stephen Irwin, Bob Mizer, and Alan Vega, as well as working with living artists such as Tom Bianchi, Vaginal Davis, Paul Gabrielli, Clarity Haynes, Cary Leibowitz, Matthew Porter, Gabriela Vainsencher, and Marianne Vitale.
Please note that this exhibition contains nudity and adult content. Visitor discretion is advised.
BREYER P-ORRIDGE: We Are But One is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.