“We have nothing to say and we’re saying it.” An introduction to underground artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

 Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

BY SARAH CHAIT ’21

The artist’s quotes were written in accordance with P-Orridge’s own idiosyncratic usage of spelling and grammar, replacing “the” with “thee”, and “of” with “ov”. This is intended to, in h/er words, “challenge the thought of established reading laws.”

68-year-old Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is an English musician, performance and video artist, author, occultist, philosopher and influencer. Identifying as a third gender (using s/he, h/er, and h/ers pronouns and recently referring to h/ erself in the plural), P-Orridge is also an important name within the LGBTQ+ community. S/he may be one of the most significant people you’ve never heard of. S/he is best known for h/er musical work, especially with the groups “Throbbing Gristle” and “Psychic TV.”

Before these musical endeavors, P-Orridge belonged to the artistic collective COUM Transmissions, which staged a series of ‘happenings’ — public art performances popular in the 1960s and ’70s — and avant-garde musical and sound explorations. With the help of h/er friend William S. Burroughs (“Naked Lunch”), P-Orridge received government funding for these projects until s/he was nationally denounced as a degenerate for h/er public performances. P-Orridge still insists these performances were not meant to inflame the general public, but that they were in fact motivated by h/er being, “terribly bored, really.”

When s/he was seventeen, P-Orridge was in a band called “Worm,” that released one album titled “Early Worm.” On the back of the record, the inscription “We have nothing to say and we’re saying it,” is a mantra the artist uses to this day. The best description of h/er band “Throbbing Gristle,” which s/he is best known for, comes from POrridge h/erself in the documentary “Thee Ballad ov Genesis and Lady Jaye.” P-Orridge said, “One ov thee reasons TG was so successful is because it took thee magical formula ov William S. Burrough’s cut-ups and inserted it into rock and roll.” “Throbbing Gristles”’s unique composition style involved homemade synthesizers and reordering of original tracks. Because of this, the group’s music ranges from complex synthetic beats overlaid with P-Orridge’s mumbling to absolute sensory chaos. While both “Throbbing Gristle” and “Psychic TV” are relatively accessible, s/he has produced so many albums that it may be intimidating deciding where to start. I recommend the album “A Taste of TG (A Beginner’s Guide to Throbbing Gristle),” available on Spotify.

What I personally find most intriguing about P-Orridge is h/er Pandrogeny Project, an experiment taken on by the artist and h/er late wife, Lady Jaye. Pandrogeny is, according to P-Orridge h/erself, “a means of evolution and survival, the future of the human race,” or an exploration of a future without gender or gender-based identities. The project involved both Genesis and Lady Jaye undergoing multiple plastic surgery sessions and hormone therapy to, in a sense, become one another, and form one individual unit of a person. Described as a declaration of universal, undying love, P-Orridge continued this project after the death of h/er wife in 2007. This is why s/he now exclusively refers to h/erself as ‘we.’ According to P-Orridge, s/he has become one with Lady Jaye and by still living, continues her legacy and memory.

Shortly after the death of Lady Jaye, P-Orridge retired from formal music making. H/er current work takes the form of performance art and film media, focusing on h/er rejection and disdain for the after-effects of the industrial revolution. In an interview with Annie Armstrong of ARTnews earlier this year, P-Orridge said, in response to a question about Donald Trump, that, “If everyone were to smash their phones, then maybe something might really happen.” If you want more information on P-Orridge or h/er work, feel free to do your own digging — watch “Thee Ballad ov Genesis and Lady Jaye,” available on Amazon, or dive headfirst into h/er music for yourself on Spotify and most streaming services. Who knows, you might just even like it.

Bohemian Rhapsody biopic lacks substance

Bohemian Rhapsody biopic lacks substance

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” directed by Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) is a biopic about Freddie Mercury, iconic frontman of the band Queen. The movie begins with Queen’s famous Live Aid charity concert of 1985, which catapulted the group into stardom and cemented their place in rock and roll history.

Keith Hamilton Cobb visiting campus

Keith Hamilton Cobb visiting campus

BY EMILY ROLES-FOTSO ’21

Actor and playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb sat down with artist Curlee Raven Holton last Friday, Nov. 3 to talk about Shakespeare’s “Othello” and their experiences as Black male artists. The event, moderated by English Professor Amy Rodgers, is part of Cobb’s nine-day residence at Mount Holyoke College which began on Nov. 3 and will last until Nov. 11.

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Photo courtesy of Flickr   Ryan Gosling is Neil Armstrong in “First Man” biopic  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21  As the first biopic about Neil Armstrong, Damien Chazelle’s (“La La Land”) “First Man” is visually stimulating but fails to capture the context of the important social movements surrounding and impacting the first moon landing. The film, starring Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”) as Armstrong, is based heavily on the almost 800-page biography written by James R. Hansen, “First Man.” The book chronicles the adult life of Neil Armstrong as he navigates harrowing personal struggles — from the tragic death of his daughter to his difficult marriage — all while trying to become the first man to walk on the moon.  Chazelle packs the film with electrifying space sequences, immediately evoking comparisons to films like “Apollo 13” and “The Right Stuff.” What sets this latest addition apart from the rest of the genre, however, is the intimate personal experience it offers of flying into space with Gosling. Through unstable camera work and special effects, the film gives the audience the eerie sensation of being shot into orbit in a rocket, exposing the terrifying reality of space missions. “First Man” doesn’t depict its astronauts as just adrenaline junkies getting high on neardeath experiences; Chazelle also captures the pain, torment and sheer lunacy of the job these astronauts have signed up for. They don’t sit in their rockets admiring the great beauty of the earth. Instead, they are constantly handling information fed to them by mission controls and expending great mental energy to keep themselves afloat, completely aware that their mission is only one small mistake away from a nightmare. Chazelle also delves into Armstrong’s personal history; at the time of the mission he had just lost his young daughter and signed up to distract himself from turmoil at home. Gosling plays the laconic character with deftness and flair, alongside Claire Foy (“The Crown”) who steals the show with quiet fury in her role as Armstrong’s wife, Janet Shearen. Sometimes through just one twitch of the eye or a slight movement of her face, Foy is able to capture the emotional center of her character. By developing Janet’s character, Chazelle is able to comment on the unimaginable emotional terror the families of astronauts were subjected to. While Armstrong could launch himself into a rocket to escape his demons, Janet was still on Earth pacing the floors, worrying about him every second.  When the movie was first shown at the Venice Film Festival, it attracted a fair bit of controversy for not featuring the famous moment when the American flag was planted on the moon. However, Chazelle finds other ways to satisfy the American ego. Twice during the film, the American flag is shown staked on the moon. There are rockets with “United States” boldly printed on them. The astronauts use plenty of derogatory terms to refer to their rivals in the Soviet Union, and America is unsurprisingly depicted as the winner of the Space Race by the end of the movie. Chazelle knows what he is doing through these sequences: creating a sanitized version of history where Americans always win and everyone else loses.   The narrow-mindedness of Chazelle’s definition of Americans is obvious in “First Man.” White men like Armstrong (and Chazelle) are given space and celebrated while Americans fighting against Jim Crow laws and the brutality of the Vietnam War are almost erased. Chazelle does not show the political upheaval surrounding the war in favor of exploring Armstrong’s inner turmoil.  While the first space mission to the moon was being launched, Vietnam War and Civil Rights protesters were crowding the streets asking for their pain to be understood and addressed. Chazelle fails to capture this tension and its connection to the mission at all in “First Man.” Instead, if one were to watch this movie without any sense of history, it would seem like the astronauts, instead of activists, were the true heroes of the era. Their story has no place in “First Man,” the same way it didn’t in Chazelle’s last film “La La Land,” which lacked diverse perspectives (and featured Gosling playing a jazz musician). These omissions in “First Man” are glaring and tell a story which seems to be solely concerned with American patriotism and the sacrifices of white men.

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

As the first biopic about Neil Armstrong, Damien Chazelle’s (“La La Land”) “First Man” is visually stimulating but fails to capture the context of the important social movements surrounding and impacting the first moon landing. The film, starring Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”) as Armstrong, is based heavily on the almost 800-page biography written by James R. Hansen, “First Man.” The book chronicles the adult life of Neil Armstrong as he navigates harrowing personal struggles — from the tragic death of his daughter to his difficult marriage — all while trying to become the first man to walk on the moon.

Yue Opera performers at MHC

Photo courtesy of Mount Holyoke College

Chinese Yue Opera stars Qi Tao (L) and Jun’An Wang (R) performed scenes at Mount Holyoke last week.

BY RENN ELKINS ’20 AND HEALY MILLER ’19

Mount Holyoke’s Rooke Theatre hosted a performance of Chinese Yue Opera scenes featuring award-winning actors Jun’an Wang and Qi Tao on Friday, Oct. 26. Wang and Tao flew in from China specially for this event and performed three scenes from the classic operas “Liu Yi Delivers a Letter for the Dragon King’s Daughter,” and “Searching for and Probing the Wife,” featuring full costume, makeup and choreography.

Natalie Portman: Behind the director’s chair

Natalie Portman: Behind the director’s chair

BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19

General audiences may feel they know Natalie Portman from her years as a Hollywood star, but she is hardly done evolving. Portman is a prolific, critically acclaimed and award-winning actress, already an enduring A-list household name at 37 and showing no signs of slowing down. Instead she’s speeding up and expanding her repertoire to include a turn in the director’s chair.

Harassment allegations silence All India Bakchod

Harassment allegations silence All India Bakchod

BY SHLOKA GIDWANI ’22

The Indian YouTube channel All India Bakchod (AIB) recently faced controversy after a freelance comedian who worked with the channel, Utsav Chakraborty, was accused of sexual harassment. Writer and comedian Mahima Kukreja shared a Twitter thread on Oct. 4 accusing Chakraborty of sending her unsolicited pictures of his genitals. She also spoke on behalf of other women, some minors, who were either harassed by Chakraborty or felt unsafe in his presence.

Glaspell’s Trifles at Rooke Theatre

Glaspell’s Trifles at Rooke Theatre

BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19

“Well, women are used to worrying over trifles,” said Mr. Hale, played by Kylie Levy ’21 in last week’s production of Susan Glaspell’s 1916 one-act play “Trifles,” directed by Brianna Sloane. With set design by technical director Shawn Hill, lighting design by Lara Dubin, costume design by Elizabeth Lowe ’19 and dramaturgy from Heidi Holder, the one-act play opened Rooke Theatre’s Fall 2018 season.

Student-led zine creates “[S]PACE” at reception

Student-led zine creates “[S]PACE” at reception

BY EMMA MARTIN ’20

This Sunday, Oct. 13, Sarah Cavar ’20 held a reception for the publication of their collaborative zine, “[S]PACE,” featuring student work from self-identified members of the disabled community. The event was meant to elicit new creation; Cavar shared prompts for those gathered to write and create with during the event.

Banksy or Bogus?

Banksy or Bogus?

BY SARAH CHAIT ’21

Well it looks like our good friend Banksy is back to his old tricks again after a prolonged media silence. This latest stint by the English artist occurred about two weeks ago at an evening auction in the historic Sotheby’s, when a piece by Banksy titled “Girl with Balloon” sunk into its frame and shredded itself the split second it was sold to an unnamed buyer for 1.04 million British pounds ($1.36 million). The stunned crowd was unsure if this was the work of the enigmatic Banksy himself, but it was later confirmed to be Banksy’s doing by the artist himself as well as Pest Control, a society for the authentication of street art.

“Big Mouth” season two charms with discomfort

“Big Mouth” season two charms with discomfort

BY GABBY RAYMOND ’20

Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, the stars of the Netflix series “Big Mouth,” took their audience on a cringeworthy 10-episode journey in their sophomore season. The show toggles between raunchy sing-along adult cartoon and the sexed class we all wish we had in high-school, though maybe not with P.E. teacher Coach Steve. There are moments you will not physically be able to look at the screen and others when you laugh so hard you cry — either way, the cesspool of middle school hormones is so relatable you’re going to have to buckle in for a binge watch.

“Searching” a triumph of experimental filmmaking

 “Searching” a triumph of experimental filmmaking

BY ERIN CARBERRY ’19

Originally premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018 before landing in box offices this August, “Searching” is a dramatic thriller that follows David Kim (John Cho, “Star Trek”) through his increasingly desperate search for his missing 16-year-old daughter Margot (Michelle La, “Mom”). Aiding him in his search are his lazy younger brother, Peter (Joseph Lee, “Miracle That We Met”), and Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”).

Red carpet activism: political fashions at the 70th Emmy Awards

BY TESS TUITOEK ’21

The use of award shows as political platforms for celebrities has been a part of Hollywood for a long time. With the advent of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, stars and activists have used the red carpet as a platform to speak up about sexual assault, wearing all black in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement at the 75th Golden Globes.

“Ocean’s 8” delights crowd at Film Society screening

“Ocean’s 8” delights crowd at Film Society screening

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

The Mount Holyoke Film Society held their first event of the semester on Friday, a screening of the feature film, “Ocean’s 8.” The film stars Sandra Bullock (“Miss Congeniality”) as Debbie Ocean, the sister of the original franchise’s iconic character Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney, “Up In the Air”).

“A Simple Favor”: Plot twists leave audiences dizzy

“A Simple Favor”: Plot twists leave audiences dizzy

BY ERIN CARBERRY ’19

Based on the debut thriller novel of the same name by Darcey Bell, “A Simple Favor” follows widow and single mom Stephanie (Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”) as she befriends the enigmatic Emily (Blake Lively, “The Age of Adaline”). When Emily disappears, Stephanie becomes obsessed with finding her friend and is quickly drawn into the tangled web of Emily’s secrets. As the story unfolds and more stones are overturned, the audience discovers that no one — not even wholesome, mommy-vlogger Stephanie — is as innocent as they seem. But how far can a story like this go before it becomes too far-fetched to follow?

Film review: “Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again”

Film review: “Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again”

BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” serves as a playful reminder that art does not have to imitate life — it just needs to celebrate it. With the first film’s takeaway point being an ode to laughing one’s way through messy-wonderful accidents, the second takes a similar tone: loving company (and maybe a good party) as a remedy for grief. The film is a bubbly, feel-good tribute to the (spoiler alert) now-late Donna (Meryl Streep, “The Devil Wears Prada.”)

Get Involved!: Arts Orgs on Campus

BY EMMA MARTIN ’20

Missed the Involvement Fair this Sunday? Looking to get in touch with your creative side this semester? Here’s what a few of the Mount Holyoke arts organizations are up to on campus!