Non è solo un gruppo di artisti, è un'idea, una filosofia libertaria in cui si esplorano i propri sogni e ossessioni, la potenzialità di scelte alternative e radicali anche dentro i circuiti artistici e i medium tradizionali (teatro, musica), ma con un approccio e un pensiero totalmente diversi (ad esempio, un pubblico composto non solo da studenti universitari o addetti ai lavori, ma anche da operai e persone senza cultura specifica). Il nucleo originario è composto da Genesis P-Orridge (alias Neal Andrew Megson, nato a Manchester nel 1950, profondo conoscitore di Alesteir Crowley e uno degli artisti più prolifici e straordinari dell'underground inglese) e Cosey Fanni Tutti (ex attricetta porno); successivamente si aggiunge il fotografo Peter `Sleazy' Christopherson. I temi delle performance dei C.T. orbitano attorno alla tortura, la guerra, le tecniche psicologiche di persuasione, gli strani omicidi (soprattutto di bambini e psicopatici), la patologia forense, la venerologia e la vita nei campi di concentramento nazisti: più di centocinquanta azioni (tra il 1969 e il '76), sia in gallerie sia in spazi alternativi, in cui Genesis beve sangue e orina, si infila aghi non sterilizzati, sta su un letto di chiodi o è incatenato e fustigato da Cosey. Le più note performance: Prostitution, Ica(London, 19-26 October, 1976) e Gary Gilmore Memorial Society (con Monte Cazazza). Genesis, Cosey e Peter, dopo l'esperienza C.T. fondano la band di `industrial music' Throbbing Gristle.
(fonte: dizionario dello spettacolo)
COUM Transmissions was an transgressive performance art group, with roots stemming from Fluxus and the underground Mail Art scene, founded in 1967 by Genesis P-Orridge and "Jesus" Joheero. COUM expanding its members from 1970 to 1973 to include Cosey Fanni Tutti, Pinglewad, Spydee and Ray Harvey.
From 1972 onwards COUM consisted solely of Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge, until including Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson in early 1974. During it's 10 year existence, the group featured a rotating cast of other peripheral members and pushed the boundaries of art and social acceptability.
Towards the end, developed more into a music group, appearing as Throbbing Gristle at their last performance - "Prostitution" in London's ICA, October, 1976.
COUM Transmission were always controversial with such avant garde happenings such as Copyright Breeches, COUMing of Age and Marcel Duchamp's Next Work, but this peaked with the "Prostitution" art exhibit - based around photos from Cosey's career as a model/actress for pornographic magazines and films. The "Prostitution" show was also the accepted premier of Throbbing Gristle. Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn decried the show as "a sickening outrage. Obscene. Evil. Public money is being wasted here to destroy the morality of our society. These people are the wreckers of civilization!" (source: discog)
This text on COUM Transmissions compounds an often re-iterated misconception about COUM Transmissions.
For the sake of Astorical accuracy only, we add this correction.
COUM Transmissions was received as a series of visions by Genesis (Breyer) P-Orridge in Shrewsbury, Shropshire late Summer of 1969. Genesis founded COUM Transmissions as an art project alone. There were NO co-founders. He had never met, nor heard of Christine Carol Newby (later Christened Cosmosis by Genesis) at that time. The original members of COUM Transmissions were G P-O and John Jesus Shapeero. Later on Dr Timothy poston, Ian "Spydee" Evetts, Peter "Pinglewad" Winstanley all became members. Cosey began her connection with COUM Transmissions performances around 1971-72. She had however, always supported Genesis and COUM both conceptually as a member of the "Coumunity" at the HoHo Funhouse and functionally creating costumes and props. After beginning to also take part in street actions and arts festival performances she grew to add a unique and powerful element and became an integral aspect of the ever more intimate and extreme actions of COUM Transmissions. A perfect foil in the later explorations of sexuality, gender and stereotypes.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge NYC 2011.
Lizzie Carey-Thomas on COUM Transmissions
“Public money is being wasted here to destroy the morality of society. These people are the wreckers of civilisation,” wrote Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn in the Daily Mail on 19 October 1976. The subject of his tirade was the performance-art group COUM Transmissions and its recently opened, now infamous exhibition ‘Prostitution’ at the ICA, London. COUM, formed in Hull in 1969 by Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti, had begun life as a band, but gained notoriety throughout the early 1970s for its taboo-breaking direct “actions”. Its founders’ antagonistic approach often brought them into conflict with the law, the most well-documented of which was P-Orridge’s indecent postcard trial of April 1976. Hijacking the trial as an art event under the title ‘G.P.O v. G-P.O’, complete with invitation cards, he subsequently announced: “What E [sic] am interested in now is that point where Art meets Life and fuses, dispersing art and enhancing life.”
While ‘Prostitution’ ran for only eight days at the ICA, it received a hostile and widespread reaction from the national press, who saw its contents as a deliberate assault on the moral and artistic values of the time. Alongside photographs of COUM performances and related press cuttings (including those levelled at the show), the exhibition included used tampons sculptures, props from past “actions” and framed pages of pornographic magazines from Tutti’s modelling career, available upon request.
Nineteen seventy-six had been a difficult year for contemporary art in Britain, which found itself facing an increasingly sceptical press during a period of all-time economic lows. Since the furore over Tate’s purchase of Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII (the “Tate Bricks”) in February, public subsidy of the arts had been forensically examined, and some critics were quick to see ‘Prostitution’ as further evidence of waning standards and a threat to societal values. In a typically agile move, the show was to be both the culmination and death of COUM’s art-related activities – the duo relaunched themselves at the opening as industrial band Throbbing Gristle, abandoning the art establishment altogether.
- Archive material on COUM Transmissions and 'Prostitution' has been selected from the Genesis P-Orridge archive held at Tate and a private collection.
(source: Genesis P Orridge Archive)
SOUNDS OF COUM
The Sound of Porridge Bubbling
Here it is, something even the authors of Throbbing Gristle’s biographies couldn’t get hold of, and available to the public in a blink-and-it’s-gone edition of 500 copies. It’s the first-ever studio recordings of Genesis P-Orridge, and certainly the first time any COUM ideas have been heard outside of live performances in the early ‘70s. It’s been said that the band never released any of this material, because by the time a record could have been manufactured, the group were already off doing something new. Like the earlier release by Early Worm, this sort of has “for completists only” stamped all over it, but they’ll be the ones who get to hear some thoughtfully strange poetry, odd tape manipulations, free-form improvisational scratch, and most of all, the title track, featuring singularity Ray Harvey (apparently the only black person in Hull, and at that, covered head to toe in tattoos) screaming to register his existence, joking about race, and having it on with a bunch of art students who, unlike a lot of other art students, had set out to create something. Great liner notes by Gen explain the conditions under which this music was created, and they’re as much of a hoot as the recordings themselves. I’ve been informed that the hidden track (“The Stripper”) was found on the flipside of the COUM reels, as Cosey Fanni Tutti would use them to practice her routine, as it was one of the only ways this lot could keep food on the table. History in the making from, at the time, the most unlikely of places. Edition of 500, and pretty much vanished… (http://www.daisrecords.com)
"This installment in the COUM story entitled Sugarmorphoses was recorded in 1974 by Genesis P-Orridge within the COUM headquarters, joyfully known as the Ho Ho Funhouse, and is one of the most far-flung, experimental recordings related to COUM. This recording consists of Genesis's candid kitchen recordings of solo broken piano improvisations accompanied by P-Orridge's own reel to reel experiments using old tape dating back to 1965, from which a young Neil Megson made countless field recordings and homework dictations. Playful, chaotic, imaginative, and historic."