The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

Format: Cinema

Date: 28 November 2011

As part of Cine-City Festival

17 Nov – 4 Dec 2011, Brighton

Director: Marie Losier

USA/Germany 2011

65 mins

After a 40-year career in music and performance art, during which he co-founded COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, Genesis Breyer P. Orridge and his late wife and collaborator Lady Jaye are the focus of Marie Losier’s unique take on the ‘rockumentary’ genre. By turns irreverent, touching and eye-opening, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye places its subjects’ romantic and performative relationship at its centre and incorporates archival material of Orridge’s various bands in action. Losier adopts a ‘cut-up’ technique to construct the portrait of Orridge, Jaye and their various friends and collaborators similar to the one so intrinsic to the work of one of the art and music worlds’ great outsiders. Hand-held footage, home videos, stills and graphics, with a soundtrack culled exclusively from Orridge’s diverse back catalogue, create a collage-like portrait of the man, the great love of his life and their ‘Pandrogyne’ project – wherein the married couple dressed alike and underwent various cosmetic surgery procedures to look like one another. Rather than appear as a narcissistic ‘freak-show’, Orridge and Jaye, with their clear devotion to each other, open-minded, creative instincts and disinterest in conventional mores, are engaging, inspirational and good-natured figures. The music may not be to everybody’s taste – ranging as it does from the grinding, proto-industrial drone of Throbbing Gristle to the psychedelic dance of Psychic TV – and the physical extremes of the ‘Pandrogyne’ project may disconcert some viewers (Orridge’s breast implants especially), but you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more strikingly candid, and unexpectedly moving, portrait of life, love and creativity at the experimental end of the rock’n’roll spectrum.

Neil Mitchell