BIGHT OF THE TWIN is a film exploring Vodun (Voodoo, Voudou, Vodoun), one of the world's oldest and most misunderstood religions. Los Angeles based artist and filmmaker, Hazel Hill McCarthy III, documents Cultural Engineer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on h/er journey to Ouidah, Benin in search of the truths and origins of Vodun.
Transcending assumptions of what it means to be “gendered”, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and late wife Lady Jaye underwent a series of surgical procedures to become physically identical to one another, seeking to perfect a gender-neutral state through a process they termed Pandrogyny. In 1997, Jaye unexpectedly died of cancer. Genesis has maintained the concept of Pandrogyne and continues to self-reference in the plural “we” and uses the self prescribed gender neutral “s/he”, “h/er”. As Genesis puts it, since Lady Jaye “dropped h/er body” s/he is the half of the Pandrogyne in the immaterial world, with Genesis being the half in the material world, still connected making a whole.
This path is both a brutal and loving one for Genesis, and s/he is constantly battling the hardship, grief, and pitfalls of devoting one’s life to art and love in such a drastic way. Hazel Hill McCarthy III, long time friend and collaborator, in hope of keeping Genesis positive and active, suggests a trip to Ouidah, Benin, the birthplace of Vodun (Voodoo), to work on a project together exploring the relationship between Vodun and Western performance art. Upon their arrival they discover a radical connection between Genesis’ life and artistic practice, and one of the world’s oldest religions.
Benin has the highest national average of twins per birth in the world, so it is not surprising that twins carry a sacred meaning. Twins there are venerated as Gods. As we learn through the film’s many twin stories, when one twin passes away, the living twin remembers its spirit by carrying around a small, carved replica of their dead brother or sister, called a Joumeaux – a colloquialism of the French word, Joumeax, meaning twin. In Benin, it is never said that a twin dies rather it is said that they have gone to the forest to look for wood.
Beginning as an investigation, the nature of the project changes drastically when Genesis is serendipitously initiated into the ‘Twin Fetish’— a ritual where there is an activation of a dead twin’s spirit in order to allow for the living one to remain connected with the one who has passed, a merging back to a whole. Genesis, through this ancient religion sees a way to reconnect with the spirit of h/er deceased wife, and dives in. As the film progresses we begin to see the link between Pangrogyny and the 'Twin Fetish' but also we see the ways in which grief and one’s own desires can hijack another man’s religion. There are ugly moments where anger and illness overshadow the ideas of love and art. Friendships are tested, and at times even the always-composed Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, once called a “wrecker of civilization,” seems fragile and lost.
Ultimately, during shooting the nature of the film changed from simply being a catalyst for audiences to gain a wider understanding and acceptance of Vodun, to being itself, Vodun—an object that has been activated by creation. But as viewers see, any activation of energy always has its consequences.
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Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Dah Gbedjinon, Adepts, Douglas J. McCarthy, Lewis Teague Wright, Eric Nordhauser, Hypolite Apovo and Staderman Sardou Gbedjinon.
Tracks by COUM Transmissions, DJMREX and Atem Hein.
Special thanks to:
Tiffany Naiman & Margot Garber, JD Healy & Cathee, Museum of Death, Ken "Hiwatt" Marshall, Mickey Madden, Sam Zimmerman, Justin Land, Jonathan Davies, Paul Rogers, Stuart Roberts, Rose Ghavami, hmackiernan, Fayann Smith, Mariana Saldana, Tristan Eisenberg, Hadi & Barbara Mackarechian, Cyrus Mackarechian, Sarah Sitkin, MuffWiggler, Richard D. Clouston, Jo Ratcliff, Ryan Conlan, Daveid Phillips, May Malik, Natalya, Todd Anderson-Kunert, Alan Stephen, Luka, Bailey Jay, Jessica White, Lara Ditkoff, Jon Lemmon and Anna Brenner, Nathan Maxwell Cann, Valerie Stoneking, Mark Bourdeau, Charles Holland, James Kraybill, Astral Eyes, Andrew R, Alejandro Garcia Contreras, Tootal Family, Bela Toth, JC A Blackchurch, Michael Seaton, Shawn Shirey, Freddy Christy, Elisha Drons, JP TURMEL SORDIDE, Karen Hillenburg, Adam Miller and Nicola Kuperus, Nick Jaguar, William Marshall, Wes and Amy, Laura Balboa, Mungo Maclagan, Robert Stanley, Johnathan Kupferer, Christian Wirtz, Juan Mendez, Melissa Ahlborn, Billy Janes, Johanna Went, Tom Marzella, Jessica Grace Salazar, Daniel Jones, Brandon Rosenbluth, Robert Foster, Daniel Trese, Chris Cuellar, Textbeak, Andrew Carreon, Rosenda Moore, Clyde McConnell, Fiacre O'Duinn, Mark Licari, Jalal Poehlman, Jonty Skruff, Thomas Gorton, Luke Turner, Elizabeth Upton, Nicholas Beaton, Joseph Delaney, Leon Clowes, Todd Anderson-Kunert, Jason Gonzalez, A de Mena, Abdi Taslimi, William Chapman, Jesper Aagaard Petersen, Mo Espinosa, Bett Williams, Mark Bourdeau, Leon Clowes, Nilz Fullerton, Rebecca Forsyth, Lauren Rutigliano, Socrates Mitsios, Paul Audino, Mark Andrew, Damin J. Toell, Johan Jacobsson, Alan Wilder, Rodney Ascher, Johan Jakobsson, Hamilton Peek, Brian Staker, Dominic Johnson, Das Bunker, John Giovanazzi, Paul Blackwood, Curse Mackey, Gregory Deglas, Clement Sol, Jackie Moon Collingwood, Gidon Schults, Susan Ferris, Florent Delval, Yachun Peng, Charlene Ventanilla, Charlie Phillips, Rebecca Buhler, Kelly McKay, Michelle McLaughlin, Wanda Huizenga, Michelle Olley, Michelle A. Dyk, Deborah M., Mondo Fnordo, Giulia Ruberti, Lizzy Doe, Daniel Miller, Mr. Midian, Molly Page, Griveau, Natasha Gavrilova, David McNayr, Fabio Quaranta, Andreas Lemke, Carl Porter, Michael Sinkins, Mara Tsakiri, Tracy Snelgrove, Mariette, Tamra Ramone, Aaron Sinift, Kelly Lynn Johnston, John Housman, David Josef Tamargo, Kenneth James Gibson and Kelly Johnston, Jamie Cupit, Mr C Murchie, Jae Connor, Daniel Lopez, Christy Giordano, Peter Barden, John Carnell, RobeBurnSF, Joe Krebs, Lisa Dare, Greta, Howie Pyro, Daniel F. Nicoletta, Delphine Van Brackel, Florian Resch, Phoebe Pitassi, Jimi McDonald, Christopher Giles, Lia Gangitano, Claire Didier, Tricia Warden, Raphael A Alvarez, Darcy D Greene, Paul Johnson, Lee Adams, Nora Lockshin, Miss L J Horton, Tyler Drosdeck, Jodi Wille, Michael Golla, Mr Chris Murchie, Zoetica Ebb, Christ-pher G F-x, Txema Novelo, Brandon Rosenbluth, Mr Jackson Hodge, Adam Woodham, Kevin Gough, Chris D Dobbs, Tabitha Logan, Gilit Konski, Angela E Young, Alysse G Padilla, Eric Wanderson Nunes, Ryan Forster, Daniel Nicoletta, David C. Teague, Daniel Moran, Erica Perrault, Jean-Paul L. Garnier, Odette Fiedeldy, Monica Chieffo, Daniel Knudten, Martin Truesdell, Jean Contreras, James Swanborough, Barry Hale, Her Band Of Gold (B.A. Crumm), Terra Celeste Cronshey, Raphael A Alvarez, Gyrus, Rachel Ann Hawthorne, Eaden Rosvein, Sarah Grant, Cameron Stearnes, Candid Loophole-Diver, John Fey, Ysanne C. Spevack, Anna R Masse, Jocelyn, Christina Coulston, Linda Losi, Amber Stutzman, Vince Polito, John Orloff, Ron Athey, Joseph Moore, Kilian, KB Kinski, Lindsay Victory, Mr Dominic J. Clark, Suren Yegiazaryan, Christina Johnson, Steve Speigal, Yanick Salazar, Doug Lussenhop, Claire Lady, Lee Clowers, Vlad, Jamie Golden, Tim Woodward, Lars Sparby, Teddy Oggin, Nemo Nein, damoss11_10