Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sick scenes

Delicate of stomach? Reading Cosey Fanni Tutti's new autobiography Art Sex Music (three words that succinctly summarise the substance of her career) is probably not advisable. I speak from experience, having negotiated the Throbbing Gristle chapter of Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up And Start Again over the weekend, while laid up ill. Just reading about some of the group's sound experiments - and especially the performance art pieces created by COUM Transmissions, out of which Throbbing Gristle sprang - is more than enough to make you feel nauseous.

In conversation with the Guardian's Alexis Petridis to coincide with the book's publication, she claims (somewhat improbably) that neither COUM nor Throbbing Gristle were ever deliberately confrontational ("We were just ... sharing something, if you like") - which is why the reaction to COUM's 1976 retrospective Prostitution at the ICA took them by surprise.

Once reviled in her home town of Hull (as well as further afield), she's now in the curious position of finding herself revered - with an exhibition of COUM's work and a programme of related events arranged to mark Hull being named UK City of Culture for 2017. Not that she's exactly delighted by it - the thought of establishment acceptance seems to make her as queasy as her work has made other people feel over the years.

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