Opening Night of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s 2017 Time Based Arts festival kicked off with a performance by ground-breaking artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. As guests connected with old friends and new ones and waited in line for food and/or drink (from festival-friendly food trucks and bar stands), they were treated to P-Orridge’s brilliant spell. Sitting in a plush white chair that was draped with he/r purse, P-Orridge treated the industrial space’s audience to a next-level armchair analysis of the state of our world, playing with statements about identity, gender, and society at large like “Humanity is the virus,” “Identity is theft,” and “Remember when you wake up in the morning, there’s no reason to be the person you were yesterday.” A large projection screen added to the cosmic feel of these musings. On the screen, an image of deep space was often overlaid with a mix of geometric shapes and cut-outs of classic nudes, which were at times manipulated into pangender, and at other times multiplied and swirled into a kaleidoscopic vulva.
The room was full, and it was difficult to get a good view of the seated P-Orridge through the crowd, but towards the end of the performance I did, and I saw that s/he was reading from pages and sipping from a glass, presumably of champagne. I felt a commune with P-Orridge, as I sipped my drink, too, listening to he/r words about coming together, watching images come together, and coming together with he/r and all around me.