Join the Occult



There’s no shortage of people behind a museum exhibition—curators and artists, for sure, and installers, and security, and administrators. However, the exhibition of Brion Gysin opening tomorrow at the New Museum required more storytellers and historians of sub-culture, and so curator Laura Hoptman enlisted artist Scott Treleaven.

Treleaven came of age in the gay scene of late-90s Toronto, defined by its storied mix of radical culture and community spirit assembled by nightlife impresario Will Munro. In 2002, Treleaven directed a short film called The Salivation Army, which earned a reputation as being a Blair Witch Project of sorts for the queer experimental cinema set.  The film is a faux (or perhaps totally real) document of the blood rites exercised by a band of young men. Treleaven’s visual art digs even deeper into the legacy of his esoteric culture’s more flamboyant conspirators like Derek Jarman, Kenneth Anger, and undersung radical artist Brion Gysin, for whom he has a particular affinity. Perhaps then, it’s no surprise that Treleaven has written a catalog essay for the New Museum’s Gysin retrospective, which opens tomorrow. But a more intimate and interdisciplinary investigation into Treleaven’s adoration of Gysin will take place on Saturday evening at Light Industry in New York. This will be a collaborative event of film, music, and performance curated by Treleaven and the always-titillating Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV fame, who was a close associate of Gysin in the 1970s.

According to Treleaven, the event will begin with some “very psychedelic and possibly unsettling” videos created by P-Orridge that date to about 1990. A requisite encore of The Salivation Army will lead up to Last 7 Words, a film portrait of P-Orridge shot by Treleaven in Paris last year, accompanied by a live score performed by Chicago-based drone metal band, Locrian. The evening as a whole has been titled “The Touching of Hands,” which Treleaven describes as, “A sort of magical precept Gysin had taught [P-Orridge]: that magical teaching is transferred from one person to another by direct contact. I suppose the idea is about a line of friendship as much as it is about three artists who’ve sometimes had very, um, peripatetic ways of working in service of some bigger concepts.”