According to her self-penned IMDB profile The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye writer-director-editor Marie Losier makes unconventional films about unconventional artists and views the subject of this film, Genesis P-Orridge, as a “musical genius”.
If you agree with and Losier, then you will probably enjoy this documentary, although it may not tell you much you do not already know about the artist born Neil Andrew Megson, better known for his work with Throbbing Gristle in the 1970s and Psychic TV in the 1980s under his new legal name.
If you don’t then you are unlikely to have your opinions altered and will probably find the film somewhat tedious and self-indulgent, characterised by often-predictable experimental tropes and images.
Personally I’m somewhat in the middle: Some of P-Orridge’s work is certainly interesting, but like many transgressive artists there’s a tendency for shock for its own sake to override other concerns. The danger of exhibiting a used tampon as part of an ICA exhibition is of being forever labelled as that tampon artist and of having to constantly live up to your reputation c(o)um past.
Correspondingly the “pandrogyny” project, by which Genesis and his wife Lady Jaye had plastic surgery that made them look like one another, could be considered as creating a body (of) work somewhat derivative of if still recognisably distinct from that of the French performance artist Orlan.
Likewise, we might wonder about the limits Genesis and Jaye set for themselves, in that this pandrogyny seems more about secondary than primary sex characteristics.
Unfortunately P-Orridge doesn’t really raise these questions here, nor Losier ask them.
Part of the issue, one suspects, may have been that the film appears to have had a long and somewhat troubled genesis of its own, maybe beginning as a film about pandrogyny but then becoming more about Genesis and his/her relationship with Jaye after her 2007 death.
Best enjoyed while “drinking German wine”