Calendar Pimp Emergency Broadcast System

Mar 27, 2009 at 10:15 am
William Gass invites you to visit the Front Room.
William Gass invites you to visit the Front Room.
If you're already watching the clock and thumbing through the paltry excuses you've yet to use for ditching work early on a Friday afternoon, set your thumbs at ease.

You suddenly need to go to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis before it closes today at 5 p.m.

William Gass, guest curator for the current Front Room show Between Beach Ball and Rubber Raft (it opened Wednesday of this week), contacted me yesterday to discuss the show, because as he said, "I think this (show) would be of interest to the RFT readers, if not the internet denizens."

And he's correct, if you're a fan of BREYER P-ORRIDGE.

See Hear Speak No Evil, 2004, by BREYER P-ORRIDGE - Photo: William Gass
Photo: William Gass
See Hear Speak No Evil, 2004, by BREYER P-ORRIDGE
Between Beach Ball and Rubber Raft features the work of Paul Lee, BREYER P-ORRIDGE and Steve Van Den Bosch. The press release for the show states that the artists explore "transcendental strategies in the face of contemporary banality." But as the title hints, there's also an element of the transitional in the work, something neither here nor there.

That something is embodied in BREYER P-ORRIDGE. Once Genesis P-Orridge, the front man for industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, BREYER is the result of a series of cosmetic surgeries (i.e., facial reconstruction, eye and chin recontouring, matching breast implants) Genesis enacted with his/er partner, Lady Jaye, so that the two would physically resemble each other. The goal was the creation of a new identity (not a sex change), so that when the two were together, a third being they dubbed The Pandrogyne, named BREYER, would exist. Lady Jaye passed away in 2007, but BREYER remains.

BREYER's pieces in the show, See Hear Speak No Evil and Binder of Light, are photographic documents of the changes BREYER enacted on their own bodies. See Hear Speak No Evil is brutal in its honesty. A triptych of C-prints show in lurid color a close-up of a badly bruised eye, an almost completely severed ear folded down from the skull and held in place by a sinister loop of surgical silk, and a pair of distended lips parted just enough to catch a glimpse of the solid gold teeth in Genesis' mouth. This is the ultimate expression of Genesis' life-long interest in William Burroughs and Brion Gysin's cut-up method for creating art. Take something familiar, slice it apart and re-assemble it in a different order to create something alien in its newness. This is BREYER.

BREYER's work is of particular personal interest to Gass, who is a senior at Webster University double majoring in Art History and Criticism and German (and of no relation to the writer William Gass).

"I've followed Gen's work since I was in high school, and I felt that this was both an opportunity to work with one of my heroes, as well as present his work in a proper way outside of the music industry," Gass explains. "I hope that this exhibition helps to broaden the public perception of him, that he is much more than just a cult figure and musician."

If you want to see the show, you need to hop to it and get to the Contemporary before closing time. Say, during your lunch hour. Or perhaps you should leave work a few hours early, claiming "Elite Eight-itis." Or be honest and tell the Man you're off to see the work of seminal artist The Pandrogyne, and you'll be back on Monday. Maybe not as the same person, but you'll be back.

Between Beach Ball and Rubber Raft is on display at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis through Sunday, March 29, if your boss is one of those hard-ass motherscratchers who refuses to tolerate any hooky.