Synopsis

BalladOfGenesisLadyJaye
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Synopsis

Genesis P-Orridge has been one of the most innovative and influential figures in music and fine art for the last 30 years. A link between the pre- and post-punk eras, he is the founder of the legendary groups COUM Transmissions (1969-1976), Throbbing Gristle (1975-1981), and Psychic TV (1981 to present), all of which merged performance art with rock music. Celebrated by critics and art historians as a progenitor of “industrial music”, his innovations have transformed the character of rock and electronic music while his prodigious efforts to expand the boundaries of live performance have radically altered the way people experience sound in a concert setting.

But that’s just the preamble to the story. Defying artistic boundaries, Genesis has re-defined his art as a challenge to the limits of biology. In 2000, Genesis began a series of surgeries in order to more closely resemble his love, Lady Jaye (née Jacqueline Breyer), who remained his other half and artistic partner for nearly 15 years. It was the ultimate act of devotion, and Genesis’s most risky, ambitious, and subversive performance to date: he became a she in a triumphant act of artistic self-expression. Genesis called this project “Creating the Pandrogyne”. Influenced, like so much of Genesis  work, by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs  Cut Ups , it was an attempt to deconstruct two individual identities through the creation of an indivisible third.

This is a love story, and a portrait of two lives that illustrate the transformative powers of both love and art. Marie Losier brings to us the most intimate details of Genesis’s extraordinary, uncanny world. In warm and intimate images captured handheld, Losier crafts a labyrinthine mise-en-scene of interviews, home movies, and performance footage. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye documents a truly new brand of Romantic consciousness, one in defiance of the daily dehumanization of the body by the pervasive presence of advertising and pornography, conveying beauty, dignity and devotion from a perspective never before seen on film.

My story with Genesis P-Orridge

I first saw Genesis perform seven years ago, at the Knitting Factory, the now legendary club in Tribeca. Watching him perform was pure enchantment. His words from the stage hovered somewhere between song and speech, deeply poetic, primitive, at times frightful. It completely hypnotized me. I knew immediately, I had to film this perplexing and powerful figure, perhaps as a way of understanding what I had experienced, but moreover to have proof of the existence of a being I was convinced had arrived from somewhere else!

In a typically miraculous New York City coincidence, I met Genesis at a gallery opening in Soho, in one of those sardine-can spaces where you can barely walk and hardly breathe. Being relatively small, I got pressed into a corner where I inadvertently stepped on someone s toes. I turned to apologize and there was Genesis smiling, his goldcapped teeth glittering down over me. We spoke briefly, but in that time I felt something special had passed between us. He asked me about my films and gave me his email. Whether it was fate or pure clumsiness, this marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that would develop into a close friendship.

Like many others who have encountered him, I saw in Genesis the simple and profound notion that the manner in which you live your life is the highest and most unimpeachable form of art that exists. My project is not about gender” he said. “Some feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body, others like a woman trapped in a man’s body. The pandrogyne says, I just feel trapped in a body. The body is simply the suitcase that carries us around. Pandrogyny is all about the mind, consciousness.” Both Genesis and Lady Jaye were born with life changing illnesses, imprinting upon them from an early age an incredibly complex relationship to their bodies. Later in life, they became gender variant activists, their mutating appearance based on gestural aesthetics, a living project documented through their collaborative paintings, photographs, writings and performances.

By allowing me unprecedented access over these past many years to film their professional and personal lives, I believe I have material that transcends most fiction films, but whose message is ultimately grounded in the most humanistic and basic of desires: the affirmation of love.