Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pandrogyne: at the Warhol Museum

Veena said to go to the Warhol Museum while in Pittsburgh, so that was the first thing on my agenda the minute I had some free time.

We had the whole of Friday and Saturday morning (sort of) off, so Friday I went off to the Warhol Museum, with my host's museum card. I began, as recommended, on the 7th floor after I was issued statutory warnings about the disturbing nature of the content.

I'd been told the previous evening about Breyer P-orridge and about this current exhibit on at the Museum. I didn't know what to think; I might have already had a slight feeling of scornful queasiness. Surgeries, voluntary or otherwise can still give me heebie-jeebies.

But I went anyway because I'm intrepid like that. The first thing you see as you turn in is a screen with a film running. I waited for the loop to begin again and while I did, I read the basic stuff about Breyer P-Orridge: who they were and what their art was about. When The Pandrogyny Manifesto began again (you can see it in two parts here and here ) I watched it through and felt both moved and very disturbed. To make your entire body - not just the skin or the surface of it - your canvas, to reshape it and be your own creator-in-collaboration seemed like such an extreme expression of both art and love, that I didn't think I could watch any more.

But I went in anyway, and watched the images, the bricolage and the installations. I continued to be disturbed but I also felt stimulated and engaged and in a state of - what shall I call it - receptivity. The collaborations with Warhol's polaroids; the earlier work of Genesis when s/he was in Britain, the sigil to Derek Jarman who'd asked for help on the last film he was making before he died; all these expanded the subject of their art and gave a context to the work of two people who attempted to not just become one person, but to have a third always beside them who was both the sum of their parts and at the same time a new being.

The gods themselves.


All the same, I felt very antsy after the left the 7th floor. I walked dutifully down each floor, caught brief moments with some iconic Warhol stuff. In a room full of his films, I stood in a spot from where I could simultaneously catch Screen Test, Kiss, Blow Job and a film in which a man beats up another one in a bar while people just watch impassively and then the man goes away and another one picks him up as if he was a rag doll and just jerks him around a bit while a girl watches and smiles from screen right.


I'd had enough. I was about to leave but I needed the loo so on one floor I walked towards where I knew the loo should be. But it was the wrong floor and instead of the signs I was looking for, I saw a silver thing peeping out of a room. An attendant desultorily kicked it back into the room. Curious, I went to have a look.

It was called Silver Clouds. I watched it for a moment and the attendant watched me. Finally she said, 'You can go in if you want.'

So I went in. Helium filled balloon drifted around me and I stood right in the centre of the room, as still as I could. Pillow clouds nudged me along, attacked me half-heartedly, rubbed against my ankles like cats wanting to be scratched. One pillow stayed stuck up near the ceiling and I waiting for it to be dislodged like I'd wait for a lava lamp to begin its proper convectional journey from down to up and back again.

I thought about anthropomorphising gas-filled objects. I thought about what kind of morphism P-Orridge had embarked on and what the continuation of the project in light of the death of one of the partners meant for self-hood and otherness.

But mostly, I felt calm. I wanted to feel calm and I wondered why my steady state wants to be undisturbed, especially when the act of disturbing produced so many reflections I didn't have the necessary speed with which to process them.


Finally I visited the museum store and then left for rehearsal*.


*About which more later.

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