Gender Porridge: Phenomena Festival reincarnates
After living mostly under the radar for anglophones as the Festival Voix d’Amériques, the spoken word and live arts festival will be reborn this month as Phenomena, a “poetic and playful” festival. To mark the occasion of this major shift (in time and branding), artistic director D. Kimm is bringing in a big name in the bizarro art-world: none other than British dadaist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. The always queer-friendly programme includes a free live set by synth-popster Jef Barbara, and a night dedicated to homosexualist eccentrics 2boys.tv.
- Walking the Tightrope of art and community: 2Boys.tv
- July Hot Spots 2B: the PepTides, Parallels, Mykki Blanco!
- Performance immersion: Piss in the Pool 8
Unmatched in the performance art world for pure strangeness (and longevity), UK artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has had several avatars over her long career. Born biologically male, P-Orridge has worked in various realms of music, performance, visual art, spoken word and Dada (anti-art) since the late 1960s. Known for exploring gender taboos and playing with the expectations of the art world, P-Orridge is also a big fan of the occult. Last year, she resurfaced on the international stage with Marie Losier’s The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, which will be back at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (Oct 22) in conjunction with both Phenomena and a special ten-day show of work by and dedicated to her “vastly influential complex practice,” at La Centrale Gallery (4296 boul. St-Laurent). Losier’s documentary notably explores the body modification process P-Orridge undertook with her late life partner, Jacqueline Breyer (Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge), as an attempt to live the concept of “pandrogyny.” Like fellow Brits Gilbert & George, the P-Orridges made their melding form of couple-hood into an art form.
For Mathieu Bonséjour, the co-curator of The Eyes of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge at La Centrale with author Peter Dubé, it’s a love of the rebel artist’s work (and each other) that inspired them to accept D. Kimm’s invitation to bring together the show. “Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s work has been present in both our lives,” he told 2B. The show will consist primarily of P-Orridge’s collages from the 90s and 2000s, along some ephemera from Psychic TV (P-Orridge’s experimental video art and music group) and a video made in the early 80s.
“P-Orridge’s work goes places that are both visionary and uncomfortable: the lines of power and connection between sex and subversion, desire and activism, fun and freakiness, magick and media are not merely made clear,” says Peter Dubé, whose new novel The City’s Gates will be featured in the fall literary issue of 2B.
“I think Genesis exemplifies transdisciplinary practice by producing culture beyond art that includes sexuality, magic, poetry, ethics, religion, etc,” Beauséjour adds. “It comes as no surprise that the show will be at La Centrale, one of Montréal’s first artist-run centres, and the only one devoted to issues of gender, feminism and queerness,” the co-curator explains. While P-Orridge is expected to make an appearance at the Oct 19 opening, her full performance moment will be the next night at Cabaret du Mile End (Sat. Oct. 20 @ 5240 ave du Parc) with her spoken word/magick trio THEE MAJESTY (9pm, $20).
Even without one of the totems of the queer art universe coming to town, the Phenomena Festival as a whole is magnificently queer-friendly for its inaugural year, with two nights of cabaret performances, DESIR DADA (Fri. Oct. 26, 9pm, directed by Claude Poissant and starring Alexis O’Hara) and RE_GENERATION by 2boys.tv (Sunday, Oct 21, 8pm @ La Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent). Active in the cabaret and performance art scene for over ten years – from events like Meow Mix, the Triennale de Montréal, and Piss in the Pool – the glorious gay duo of Stephen Lawson and Aaron Pollard are teaching their acolytes to perform a bouquet of their own past pieces, which use projection, drag, pantomime, and lip-lynch to haunting effect. Not 2B missed.
Finally, fans of electro (and FREE shows) will want to gather for the famous Turbulences happy hour performances, held this year at the Divan Orange (4234 boul. St-Laurent). Jef Barbara, Montréal’s answer to Lou Reed (with more lives than a pussy-cat), will take to the stage Wednesday Oct. 24 at 5pm for a special one-off performance.
w/ Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, 2boys.tv & Jef Barbara
Oct 19-26 (various locations)