Genesis P-Orridge Full-length Bio

Full-length Bio
“The Process is the product. If you release an action it will unfold.” – Genesis P-Orridge

gen__aged_five_1955.jpgGenesis P-Orridge was born as Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester, England, on the 22nd of February 1950.

In 1968 Genesis Attended Hull University in England where he studied Social Administration, Economics and Philosophy. At this time became very interested in the beatnik writers. While under the authority of the school administrators, Genesis started to develop his political integrit–he founded an Underground Magazine by the name of Worm. This publication would be the start of a lifelong process of “wrecking civilization” as it were, by upholding freedom of speech… and actually being banned by issue 4. And so constant controversy surrounding Genesis P-Orridge begins…

He became connected with a group of kinetic/mixed media performers in 1969 known as Transmedia Exploration in Islington, England. He met Derek Jarman there, who later became an influential filmmaker.

A commune was formed with members from Transmedia Explorations, which kept a strict regime. The commune would attempt to decondition its members from conventionality by controlling all aspects of life within. There was an emphasis on the concept of randomness, so as to never get used to one routine, one way of doing things. This concept was displayed in their consciously irregular sleeping, eating and other habits and would help shape a way of thinking that would show up in almost all forms of Genesis’ art including his SELF (being/becoming Genesis P-Orridge was always the key aspect in his art).

Also in 1969 Genesis became the Founding Artist and Theorist of seminal British Performance Art group C.O.U.M. Transmissions in Shrewsbury, England. C.O.U.M. Transmissions created and performed more than 200 art actions, installations, video work and street actions in Art Festivals and Galleries all over Europe and in America. The project was terminated in September 1976 with a final but now infamous show called “Prostitution” at the I.C.A. Gallery in London. This was the first time that the general public would witness Punk Rock and Industrial culture firsthand. The event caused an uproar (the venue was owned by Queen Elisabeth II) that would escalate from controversial newspaper reviews, television talk show appearances and even meetings in Parliament!

During this time his first large scale Mail Art/Correspondence Art works began. He was a regular contributing artist to a traveling exhibition called Fluxshoe, which became extremely influential in the art world–works from that period were featured in a large scale retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London in 1994.

In 1973 he first met with the legendary beatnik writer William S. Burroughs. Genesis would later Co-curate a Burroughs/Gysin retrospective arts festival called The Final Academy in London, October 1982. Co-edited “Nothing Here Now but the Recordings,” an album of early readings and released it on Industrial Records in 1980.

The works of William S. Burroughs would influence Genesis greatly. Burroughs used a “cut-up” technique in which written words were literally cut out of pages and then mixed about in a random fashion to create prose. The cut-up concept is present in virtually all forms of Genesis’ work/life. This is ironic as the concept of cut-up in itself is randomness, yet somehow is part of the glue that holds a common ground in his monstrous body of work.

To support his art and to continue developing his skill as a writer, Genesis wrote regularly for publications such as Art & Artists, Studio International, and Flash Art. He was the co-editor of Contemporary Artists, a large volume of reference to modern contemporary art that would later be named “the best reference book of the year” by the American Libraries Association.

Seminal cult band Throbbing Gristle was formed in 1975, of which Genesis was a Co-Founder and Linguistic Designer. The group was formed simultaneously with the termination of COUM Transmissions. In fact they performed their first live show at COUM’s last art show (the controversial “Prostitution” exhibit). Throbbing Gristle also formed their own record label Industrial Records and coined the term INDUSTRIAL MUSIC. Much to their surprise, “Industrial” is no longer just the name of a controversial record label, but actually has defined a popular genre of music today that includes bands such as Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

In 1976 Genesis met beatnik writer Brion Gysin in Paris, France with whom he would befriend and collaborate with until Brions death in 1986. His acquaintance with Gysin played a strong influential role for Genesis and his art.

Sonic/Transmedia music and performance collective “Psychic TV” formed in Hackney, London with Alex Fergusson in 1981. Psychic TV released records on W.E.A. and C.B.S and in 1985 founded Temple Records. Psychic TV has released over 70 albums and has appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records, for releasing more albums in one year in one territory than any other group to date.

Together with the formation of PTV, Genesis initiated a 10-yr. long Art Actionist Project called Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY). Over its span of 10 yrs. the TOPY network reached around the globe with over 10,000 participants.

As a result of the common (and contorted) view of what TOPY’s anti-cult actions stood for and after years of conflict with British Authorities, Genesis was exiled from Britain in the early 90’s. He relocated to California in the US.

It was there in 1992 that Genesis met Dr. Timothy Leary, with whom he collaborated with on a series of performances entitled “How to operate your brain,” supplying video cut-ups, soundtracks and speaking.

Between 1990-97 he collaborated on several live musical concerts with Bachir Attar, Master Musician of Jajouka, most recently in Stockholm at The Beatnik Legacy spoken word festival in 1997.

Genesis toured and co-wrote songs with Industrial music supergroup Pigface. His guest vocals have appeared on albums by Download (Canadian based ex-Skinny Puppy member Cevin Key), Merzbow (Japanoise band), Column One (German cut-up project) and Hawkind (Nik Turner).

In 1998 a new expanded poetry/music project with Bryin Dall (of Loretta’s Doll) and Larry Thrasher called Thee Majesty was formed. Still writing music and performing to date, Thee Majesty mixes spoken-word and experimental sound, usually coming from very experimental and handmade musical instruments.


photo by Miss James F. Murphy

Genesis curated “Time’s Up!,” a large-scale event at the Royal Festival Hall in London, 1999. It featured a reconstituted original hyperdelic pop version of Psychic TV, Thee Majesty, Quentin Crisp, the Master Musicians of Jajouka and others. A DVD was released as “Time’s Up! Live” through Music Video Distributors throughout Europe and the States.

Wreckers of Civilization, the story of COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle by Simon Ford was published by Black Dog Press in 1999. This book recognizes the influence of COUM and Throbbing Gristle and has become an important reference of alternative art and music history.

On December 23, 2002, TG 24 was released on Mute Records. This deluxe box set (Originally released by Throbbing Gristle on cassette tape in an attaché case) contains 24 CDs, each an original one hour long recording of a live Throbbing Gristle set. It has been remastered by Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle, comes in a handmade case and includes a sealed file containing a myriad of new and unique artifacts and information provided by all four members of Throbbing Gristle.

A monograph book, Painful but Fabulous, the Lives and Art of Genesis P-Orridge was published by Soft Skull/Shortwave Press in January of 2003.

In 2003 Genesis changed his name to Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and began a performance/action series called Breaking Sex that was initiated by both he and his partner Lady J. Breyer P-Orridge. This project is about re-union and re-solution of male and female to a perfecting hermaphroditic state. This includes having cosmetic surgeries that blur the lines between their sexes and bring them nearer to being one physically. For example, the couple has undergone matching breast-implant operations for Valentine’s Day and their 10 yr. Anniversary.

Breyer P-Orridge have had their first solo show under that name entitled “BREAKING SEX” at the Concordia University Gallery, Montreal in March of 2003. They are currently working on a DVD called Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, which shows Genesis getting all of his teeth replaced with solid gold.


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©2005 Genesis P-Orridge. All rights reserved.

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