TIME TO TELL TEXTS
Time To Tell' was originally presented in 1982 as a cassette release with accompanying A4 booklet. Demand exceeded the availability and distribution was very limited. The 1992 limited edition re-release was updated to include a comprehensive full colour 40-page booklet with revised text, a set of postcards and an additional previously unreleased 16 minute performance soundtrack on CD.
All the music on the CD was composed to work in unison with the performance art work of Cosey Fanni Tutti. The booklet also featured a transcript of a debate and lecture by Cosey at Leeds Polytechnic in May 1982. The subject under discussion was Cosey's work as Performance Artist, Striptease Artist, Model, Musician and the integration of all theses into her life. Also included were photos, statements and list of performances/ exhibitions. Cosey merged art and life as a form of self expression and experience.
An addition to the limited edition of 1000 a seperate 'deluxe edition' of 100 was also produced. Each was packaged in a signed and numbered handmade box and contained an original encaustic painting by Cosey. All music and sounds were composed and produced by Cosey Fanni Tutti.
BELOW IS THE TEXT INCLUDED IN THE TTT BOOKLET & COVER
ALL TEXTS © 1981 & 1988/ 92 - Cosey Fanni Tutti.
TIME TO TELL
My photographic and Striptease projects were you might say like any other investigation but with a real purpose.
To make an action I must feel that the action is myself and no one else, no influences - just purely me - I am laid open to myself and through my actions to other people.
Through working in a wide variety of photographs/ films and venues and with an equally wide variety of men and women, all involving sex in its many guises, I have lost the element within me which suggests as a woman I must always appear sexually presentable. Sex is beautiful and ugly, tender and brutal both physically and mentally.
As our sexuality is a key to our 'whole being' it has always been extremely important to me to explore and find myself. Through my actions I retained one rule which was; to remain true to myself, to question myself but, also to listen. My actions have always been lessons to me, teaching me about myself, taking away barriers which had no meaning in reality and replacing them with experiences which enriched my whole life and enabled me to go forward as a more sensitive human being ready to 'live' life and not merely survive it.
My work in the photographic, film and striptease business began as a project in its own right, an exploration of a fascinating part of our culture. One which many women never explore or admit to having an interest in. It is an area of great exploitation both of women and men. There is sadness, laughter and pain and most of all a wealth of knowledge about our own sexuality.
I was placed in situations which I did or did not feel happy or comfortable in, situations where what was demanded of me revolted me and I had to learn to cope. Refusals can be cleverly presented as a slightly different version of the original request, one which suits all very well and upsets no one. A psychological and sexual hurdle overcome until I was ready to face it again with more confidence or maybe decide it was definitely not enjoyable to me on any level.
I quickly realised that because I had a reason for being involved in the commercial sex scene other than money, I would emerge far less tarnished than some of the other girls I had met and worked with. One tends to convince oneself of all manner of things to justify ones participation in the acts of sex; being photographed or filmed or portrayed on stage. Some of the girls could not succeed in doing this and broke down. It was then a time for re-assessing ones values and expressing ones feelings. All along I had assumed that people had a sense of self value but it is not so. Some people have no value for themselves at all. No self worth, and that is how they could 'cope' with working in the sex trade. This I never did learn to understand fully. Problems get buried as deep as possible in order to avoid being hurt once again.
Working within this field was probably the only time I would call my projects 'performances' and not actions, although there was a point at which I merged with the model who was performing before the camera or audience. I had to become that required sexual archetype fantasy on screen/ in print/ on stage. There are specific sexual fantasy types and deviation is not tolerated gladly by the consumer. The business has worked out its successful formula through many years of experience.
Striptease has available to you the most artistic freedom, as your personality is so much a key to the success of your show. There are rules and boundaries which can be gently manipulated and for me this form of sexual presentation was the most satisfactory. I was allowed to present myself within a certain structural format, but I chose the formats that
suited my sexual personality which after all is what is demanded by the audience.
I spoke with men in an environment where they were being 'men' and that proved an experience and education for me. Their wives/ lovers probably never saw this side to their personalities. The accepted attitudes of men to striptease dancers was prevalent but also a more surprising attitude of 'respect' and 'admiration' for the girls was just as predominant. These men knew what demands were made of the girls in terms of their sexuality and well being and accepted the girls for what they were and not just as objects of abuse or sexual gratification.
Then one might argue that it all comes down to individual ability to communicate on a human level as opposed to an animal level.
I think one of the most fascinating and frightening lessons I learnt was the ability (as a means of survival) to manipulate and control the responses of the men I had to deal with on a one to one or on a mass basis. It was a skill of reading people's faces, their expressions, their choice of words and their body language. It became instinctive.
There are many avenues of sexual exploration which I have not travelled yet and look forward to these with relish.
Cosey Fanni Tutti May 25th 1988.
TIME TO TELL TRANSCRIPT
On the l9th May 1982 Cosey Fanni Tutti gave a lecture to the fine art students of Leeds Polytechnic. This lecture and the question/ answer period that followed are reproduced here as the basis for this special release. Considering space limitations we hope to give as clear a picture as possible of Cosey's work over the last 16 years as a performance artist
which includes her work as a striptease dancer, her modelling work and as a musician with Throbbing Gristle and CHRIS & COSEY/ CTI.
The only photographer in the whole of my modelling experience that I have ever respected and who respected all his models was Szabo.
He died 22nd November 1982. There are no words which bring to paper the sadness I felt or the closeness we shared. He was one of the few sensitive people of the world and we needed him with us for so much longer. He has never really left me, his spirit remains as does his smile. In leaving us you were relieved from pain. My love to you Szabo and Trisha.
The first photographs you can see are of the very early work with Coum which took place mainly around the streets of Hull, more like a form of street theatre.
The first two were taken at a performance outside the Ferens Art Gallery where we used to go and do our work regularly until we were moved on. This is Genesis in the gas mask, the second one shows Ian Goodrich who used to work with us on projects.
Here we have a performance from the local arts centre in Hull. We used to make huge environments for people to do more or less what they wanted. We staged small pastiches among the materials for the people to focus their attention on at first, then they could relax and begin to make their own actions.
What we found when we did these environments was that the people would get rid of their nervous and excess energy and just make a big mess or smash things, which wasn't very constructive. You see they would come and release their tensions and then go home having just done that - rather like going out to the pub on a Saturday night or to a dance. So we decided that for us to get more from our work and in return hopefully those who came to see us, we would actually do what we wanted from then on, and if people could accept that, well and fine, if not....
At the same time as this performance work we were also doing what became known as mail art, which had obviously been going on for years but hadn't as yet been labelled as mail art - there were a lot of people abroad at the time who used to write to English Artists mainly in the U.S.A. and Canada. The picture here is from one of the very first mail art exhibitions to be held in this country.
This photograph shows 'The Marriage of Fizzy Peat' where we married a dog to a clown in a defunct church in Manchester.
Although we had always thought of our work as doing whatever we felt like, by 1972 we were suddenly told that it was performance art and that we could apply for a grant. The things we were doing had tended to become more simplistic because we personally had begun to feel that the more you
attempted to please an audience with your performance the worse it went down, because they knew you were trying to please them, whether they realised they knew it or not. We found that if we did what we ourselves wanted we felt better personally afterwards than when we had tried to please - failing miserably and not having done what we wanted to do in the first place. This may sound selfish but it actually worked out a lot better all round.
When we started taking grants from the Arts Council we found we had to do a certain number of arts centres and places like that - a circuit you had to do each year was a bit stifling and you tended to get stuck in a rut. We didn't want to do the same places every year to the same people, the same artists - too much of a clique. So we put together a 'Tree of Life' tour which never actually took place because the Arts Council wouldn't give us the grant to do it. It was a tree drawn on the map of England and wherever the lines passed through we would give a performance, be it a very remote village or a big town. All in all there were about eighty-four performances scheduled instead of the normal 10 or so venues laid down by the Arts Council. It was proved to us that the Arts Council were not really interested in the work of their artists just that the artists became a means by which they could keep their arts centres open by filling their annual programme. We were actually sent sheets to complete detailing our performances for the coming YEAR! This also confirmed to us that performance art was really defined within the Arts Council in much the same way as theatre.They obviously thought that performances were much like plays.
(photo 6, 11)
These are the things we had at the Paris Biennale where the 'tampax' we used at the I.C.A. Prostitution show made their first appearance. We had them in perspex boxes and bought a load of French maggots from the market and put them in with them. The exhibition lasted a couple of weeks and eventually the maggots hatched out into flies, filling the box and buzzing around like a living sculpture.
At the back of the case were four cages mounted on the wall containing mice and photographs of our performance. The mice munched away at them throughout the exhibition until, eventually they escaped and there were mice nesting all over the place.
Via our performances we used to work out our own inhibitions and this was one of them. It was quite a taboo to show or even admit that any woman used tampax or even went to the toilet. So we used these tampax of mine and the maggots lived off them and hatched out.
This photograph shows the Bull Ring, Birmingham where we did a piece called 'Orange and Blue' all about the different roles we play as male and females. The blue and orange are the positive and negative and blue was the female and orange the male. We changed the roles completely throughout the
piece, the orange becoming the blue (male to female) and negative to positive. We also had contact microphones attached to various pieces within the performance, the table, the floorboards, etc, there was music played throughout. To us this proved to be a cross over from the experimental theatre work we were doing, which was all quite funny with a
strong sense of humour to it, all quite tongue in cheek. Here, whilst still retaining this humour, we had begun to get a bit more serious by using props that would actually take on roles. It had a bit more theory behind it - the magical blue etc. We had become more particular about what we did and the pieces we used in performance.
Here we have a shopping day in Liverpool. A living window display performance using parts of Liverpool itself that we collected from the streets the previous evening. This was something we often adopted within our performances, items from the area we were to work in. It helped us to identify with the town/ country and seemed to merge us gently into the environment we performed in.
One of the more conventional 'festivals' we took part in was a flag festival in Rottweil, West Germany along side artists like Briget Riley. We supplied our own flag, designed by ourselves. It's seen here in the top left hand corner. We also did some street performances around the town over three days. The whole town was adorned with the flags designed by artists from all over the world. It was interesting if not amazing to
note that over the whole 3 days not one flag was damaged, left up all night, every night despite the flowing of wine and beer that seemed 24 hours a day.
Another festival we took part in in West Germany was at Kiel where the theme was 'children at play'. We found, that although some adults say some of our images we use within our performances are quite horrific, the children at this festival identified with them and could play along side us and
accept us more readily than any of the adults. The children would often join in and then be dragged away by their parents. Probably because they were frightened or uneasy themselves. There was no problem with the language barrier because we'd stopped using any dialogue at all, finding that people could get a lot more from it by interpreting the performances themselves and in their own way without being told what it meant. It's also interesting when people come up to you and tell you what you've just done and it had nothing to do with what you were thinking about during the performance. Their interpretations were really interesting and sometimes crossed over into where our own ideas lay.
Many of the objects that were used within the performances stayed with us from one action to another. We used a lot of mirrors and arrows because of their aesthetic appeal as well as their psychological and magical meaning. Because we never worked any of our performances out or had any set structure in particular we would take along objects that we were comfortable with and got nice feelings from, so you would often see things that were the same because we would use them as a way of relaxing and getting into the performance that was due to take place.
Here is a cross over period to music. Although we had always had music as a way of letting our hair down we'd all get together and use whatever came to hand and make music and sound. All these people were involved in performance at the same time and we just used to play around together.
The line up here is Greg Taylor, Genesis P-Orridge, Fizzy Peat, John Lacey and Cosey Fanni Tutti.
(photo 12, 13)
This performance at the Hayward Gallery in London. It took place over three days, an hour per day. What took place looked like mutilation but in actual fact it was all simulated. A friend had shown me how to do simulated cuts and gashes, but this performance incorporated the use of strawberries which were crushed to look a lot like blood and gave off a
fantastic smell, filling the gallery.
Questions to Cosey
DID YOU DO THIS PERFORMANCE ON YOUR OWN OR WAS GENESIS WITH YOU?
No, just me. Genesis stopped doing performance after a while because he felt he had said everything that had to be said. I, on the other hand hadn't started really.
When we worked together we were never working 'together' as such. We would both work individually but within the same space and quite often the difference between us would be the masculine and feminine version because he was often quite violent whereas my actions often counteracted his violence in a way. Also what used to happen is that we would both be in
the same position doing the same thing, unknowingly because we were back to back.
DID YOU SAY THAT BEFORE YOU DISCOVERED STRAWBERRIES YOU ACTUALLY USED TO CUT YOURSELF?
No I never cut myself. Gen used to. He'd get so much into what he was doing that for instance if he had wire twisted around his mouth he'd keep twisting, not realising that it was cutting him.
YOU'D THINK HE'D HAVE KNOWN?
Yes but he never did. It was the heat of the moment. It never happened to me though because I was more into things not actually being what they seemed to be. I wasn't into pain as an art or means of expression. I didn't get off on that at all.
TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE S/M ELEMENT IN TG AND WHAT GENESIS DID RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU MOVING IN ANOTHER DIRECTION?
It was never a feature of what we did. It just happened as performances went on. Because we always improvised, we wanted to do things that just occurred at the time and sometimes you find yourself in a position that you might not relish afterwards but you want to push yourself forward
and you aren't going to hold yourself back. We never did. People used to think I did a lot of nude work to get attention but I personally felt a lot more comfortable in the nude and free to do what I wanted. I could use my body as part of the objects that were around, unrestricted in any way.
WHAT ABOUT THE RIGHT WING INSIGNIA THAT WAS USED BY TG?
It wasn't right wing. The red, white and black of the flash was an image that had appealed to us for years. Everybody reads about Hitler, the Moors Murders and the Yorkshire Ripper - if they didn't they might as well not bother living because they're not interested in anything that happens around them. The red TG flash and so on was our way of experimenting on whether people would pick up on something that was
presented to them, be it Tesco's or the Nazi party. It's what advertisers do, and because we'd set up our own label we thought we'd try it on a small scale and present a symbol for somebody to pick up instantly recognise as TG without any writing of the name, which people did. It worked. We wanted an image that was strong and the best thing to do when
you have any image to put to people is to use something that seems familiar to them. It's nothing like a swastika really but people just recognise it as something that's similar to something they already know. In music the same technique is used in 'pop music'. When you hear a record, the hook of that song sounds like a song you've heard years ago, but can't quite pin point the exact song. That's because just a fraction of the familiar sound has been used. Enough to trigger off a
suitable response. A response which will make people want to hear that record again. It's manipulation in another form. We'd never thought of being fascist until the music press told us we were and we weren't.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A MIDDLE AGE PERFORMANCE ARTIST?
I don't see myself as any age....
WHAT I MEAN IS BECAUSE YOU USE YOUR BODY. I THOUGHT THE PERFORMANCE CAME FROM STRIPPING.
No the performance came first actually. Genesis and myself were always interested in that the basic thing in life is sex,and peoples obsession to hide it and to hide as many bodily functions as they could. It seemed like something to fight against. I didn't want to suppress quite natural urges in any way. That's why the tampax's were shown, because so many women deny that it actually happens and guys don't want to know anything about it. We did quite nice little things with them, they're fascinating as objects and all that they represent, but a lot of people don't want to recognise that side of life which to me is strange because that's what it all boils down to in the end.
I received a letter from an American woman who sent me one of her tampax in the post.
HAVE YOU GOT A COLLECTION?
No but Genesis used to have. It was a walking stick with lots of tampax dangling down, some used some not. It really was a nice object, all the tampax had varying degrees of blood, some heavily soiled, down to white fluffy ones. They never smelt or anything which is what most people's immediate response is.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE COUM?
Nothing really. I'd just left school and I was on the dole - seventeen. I got thrown out of home, Genesis lived in a commune so I managed to rent myself a room there. We lived separately for about two months trying to avoid the trap of living together just for the convenience of it but it never worked out. We moved into one room.
WHAT DO YOU FIND IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AUDIENCE IN A PUB WHEN YOU STRIP?
They're there for entirely different reasons. Those who go to see a strip are there to see their fantasies lived out. I've had people from the art and music scenes go along to watch me strip - it's a novelty to them. They don't see themselves as letching, they think they're above the guys that usually go, which they aren't at all. When they go to private views and gigs they are just the same.
HOW FAR CAN YOU GO IN A PERFORMANCE?
When you do a performance you can sense what to do and what not to do by the atmosphere you get from the audience, whether its aggressive or not. If it's going well and at a really nice pace, you just do whatever you're going to. We've actually had sex and anal sex in a performance without
being stopped - that's as far as we ever got. We didn't aim for it at all, it just happened.
WHERE WAS THAT?
That was at the Art Meeting Place in Covent Garden, London, but at the Bull Ring the crowd stopped us. In the Orange and Blue piece we do end up nude but we get dressed again - a really aggressive girl decided she wasn't going to let us participate.
But as far as aggression goes, we very rarely got any once we'd stopped doing things to please other people, because we were doing it for honest reasons and there's no comeback really. I always found that if you are doing things honestly and for your own reasons with the courage of your own convictions, then people haven't any ammunition against you. It's really their own uncertainties that they question you with. Like why do you do this? I wouldn't want to. Then I wouldn't want to be doing nothing creative like them. So each to his own as long as it harms no one else. They seem to be aggressive for aggressions' sake, because they have no answers or other responses, to the situation they face.
YOU SAID THAT YOU STOPPED DOING THINGS TO PLEASE OTHER PEOPLE, SO YOU BEGAN AS ENTERTAINMENT REALLY?
Yes that's why when I was told it was performance art I hated it. I've always defined things as actions like the German people do because I wasn't performing. I was just being myself and never someone else giving an act. When they couldn't keep experimental theatre in a category any more because it was becoming too obscure, they called it 'performance art'.
DO YOU FEEL THERE WAS AN ELEMENT OF GAMBLING PUTTING THESE THINGS ON AS ENTERTAINMENT, LIKE SOMEONE GOING ON THE STAGE?
We knew when we went out catering for other people that we'd come home with broken drum skins and things smashed up. We knew people would have a great time just wrecking the place. Then we'd have to clear up - taking toys for all these grown up kids to play with.
WAS IT ALWAYS A LET DOWN AFTER THAT SORT OF THING?
It became like that. It's terrible that when you give people a free reign they don't know what to do so they just go crazy. So you have to give them direction.
DO YOU STILL DO STRIPTEASE WORK?
Yes I'm doing it now.
WHAT SORT OF PLACES?
There's about three different circuits in London. When I did modelling I went through all the different variations - from hard core to Playboy and all the bits in between, also the girls at the motor show type of thing, catalogues. The whole spectrum. When I moved to striptease I chose to do one particular side of it because I'd seen the seedy side through all the blue films etc and it involved all the same people. Paul Raymond Revue Bars - a lot of the model girls whose faces were too well known went on to do strip there and I knew what went on. Another side is to do stag work, which are parties for a guy's last night - before his wedding. I wasn't interested in that because I didn't see anything more than a load of guys having a party. So I chose to work in .the pubs
around London that have a license for music and dancing. At lunchtimes and sometimes evenings they have a disco with a girl doing topless dancing. The girl then goes around collecting money to do a striptease. I also get other jobs such as jumping out of huge cakes at special functions. Those are the best jobs. The pubs are very interesting for the first couple of years but after a while you've more or less seen it all. Heard all the jokes and noises the guys give the girls, and it gets boring.
DOES THIS EFFECT YOU?
No it doesn't because, luckily, I came out of the porn films unscathed as I'd something to go home to. My performance work and my music. I knew why I was doing it which was to find out what that side of life was like and how it feels to be used in that way. A lot of girls were doing it purely for the money, wrongly or rightly depending on how you take it, going from glamour modelling into porn because they couldn't get any more jobs. They would see being in a porn film as being a star because you've got the champagne there, the make-up artist, the cameras and dope to smoke if you want it. They really do look after you if you go to the right people.
DID YOU COLLECT ANY OF THE FILMS?
Yes they're very difficult to get hold of because they ship them abroad. The first film, six years after I did it, I found in a Berlin shop. I couldn't get hold of them at all until very recently but I did collect all the magazines I appeared in as soon as I could. Once they found out, via the ICA exhibition what I was about and into they didn't want to know, but I'd finished by then anyway. The only one who didn't blacklist me was David Sullivan from Whitehouse magazine who used to fight against Mary Whitehouse, and everyone like her, hence the title of his magazine. He was the only decent and honest bloke in the whole business. He was put away for nine months recently for obscenity, they really hounded him. He was the kind of guy who printed a picture of a Vietnamese child who had been blasted apart with a title across it such as 'This
is Pornography', and have that as a centre spread instead of an open crutch shot. No other magazine would have done that - he wasn't a crusader as such but he wanted to make the point that pornography is different things to different people.
Anyway I came out of that unscathed and stripping as well because whenever it got too heavy I would just have a rest. One of the worst things is that people think its degrading to women etc but it's 50 - 50 all the way. Half the guys think you're on the game as well and the other half want to look after you and father you, which is quite odd.
You're split between the two so that for a while you get all the guys thinking you're easy, banging your head against a brick wall telling them to get lost, and the rest of the time there's all these guys getting you presents and telling you what a nice girl you are. There's a lot of girls I've worked with that are really messed up through it. They'll go round the back with a guy sometimes and they'd be better off on the streets because at least they'd know where they stand. They find they can't love any more, they just see guys in pubs and not as someone to share affection with - just a pound note. It's quite sad but that's what happens.
AS A STRIPPER DO YOU LOATHE YOUR AUDIENCE AT ALL?
No I don't actually. In every audience there's always the lynching party, wherever you go. A small group of people who've got to shout and make themselves known and spoil it. Once you've got rid of them you're alright. There's always some people you don't like, especially if they're loud mouthed and draw your attention to them. There's certain types of blokes that I just do not like - that don't think much and just show off in front of their mates. Some I have pity for but others I have no pity for at all. It's the same with women, there's some women I don't like. But no, I don't loathe them.
DO YOU ANSWER BACK TO THEM?
Yes I've hit some of them as well. They think its degrading but you really are in a position of power because while you are stripping all the attention is focussed on you. So whoever opens their mouths loud enough also brings themselves to the attention of everyone else, but you have the upper hand, because everybody's waiting for you to do something. It's
only when I've got really really angry that I've ever struck anyone, if anyone touches me or something like that, because its never in a nice way. If someone comes forward to touch you on stage, it's to show off. One guy came up and pinched me, physically hurt me. He meant to, you can tell by the aggressive touch and the force behind it. I just lashed out
backwards and knocked him flying. They usually leave then. I've always been aggressive when someone is aggressive to me first, or treats me like shit. I'm not, so I treat them likewise.
DON'T YOU EXPECT THAT TO HAPPEN?
No I don't. Lately it's getting worse but I don't know why.
I'VE SEEN THE SAME THING WITH A MALE STRIPPER AND WOMEN. ONE WOMAN MAKES A GRAB AND THEY ALL JOIN IN.
Nearly all the male strippers in London are gay. I've only ever seen a couple because I'm not all that interested. A funny thing is that when they strip they strip like a woman would strip, dance like a woman. Actually macho until it comes to dancing as though they've been watching some of the girls to get a few tips. It doesn't look right on a man though I don't know how they could do it in a masculine way.
It is through her involvement with CHRIS & COSEY / CTI and Throbbing Gristle that Cosey will be familiar to the majority of readers,though as you will be by now aware this was only one stage of a very active sixteen or so years. What follows is an article which first appeared in the American glamour magazine 'Partner', written by Hazel Gravy.
head on and make of it what you will....
As CTI we are producing work in many fields and involving others in our projects. We are not an elite organisation, nor do we strive for a cult following. Our aim is to move with technological advances, assimilate these and make use of them in whatever way we can. i.e. musically, visually and personally. We retain our sensitivity, remaining people aware of feelings yet acknowledging the existence of the world around us, not enveloping ourselves in a cocoon or self created world. To think of reverting to old traditions and standards is a way to deny ourselves knowledge, we are here to live our lives in full not restrict our intake.
We aim to work in every spectrum of film, video and music. Not only to emphasise the unpleasant or controversial, but all aspects of life. We respect other people's work and expect the same for our own. We do not allow prostitution of our work via bootlegs but welcome requests for serious collaboration projects.
The photographer gives me many personalities, none of which are my own.
The reader perceives me as he wishes.
The presentation of my image is the publishers alone. He has a market which strongly dictates its needs. Nothing else will do. Little satisfaction, as the only contribution is ones body.
Topless Dancer, Striptease Artist.
Eroticism presented live and spontaneously.
There is communication taking place in a visual sense.
The facial expressions, the physical gestures and the mood of the music. The projection of ones personality is the key to success, unlike that of a model. The costumes, the music and the movements create the atmosphere for the ten minutes one is in focus. However, you are still what the viewer wants to perceive you as; but you have the ultimate power to dispel any illusions. The decisions are yours alone.
ACTIONS as performance art:
Each image, character and movement is seen throughout my actions.
A purification ceremony.
A dispelling of false ideals.
Concluding with the presentation of myself.
My life is my work and I move on to more experiences.
STATEMENT BY COSEY FANNI TUTTI
Life is the true artistic media. A denial of life and the world about us is a denial of oneself and ones perception. You must open yourself fully to experiences which present themselves.
I chose the controversial, yet important area of erotic/ sexual occupations, the investigation of which I made a six year project. This enabled me to work as an artist (unknown to my associates) and as a woman within a mans fantasy world and also see women through the eyes of men.
One sees men as they never are with their wives or girlfriends. In fact you, as a woman become a part of that masculine lifestyle. I have discovered male personality and experienced what it is like to be he focal point for men's sexual fantasies and desires. It is a subject so diverse and one needing great explanation and discussion on many levels. A saddening area of our lives, for men and women, and yet it seems so necessary. An area which I am glad I have experienced both as a woman and as a man.
A life full of questioning is a true life.
This is what I present to you.
Cosey Fanni Tutti.
We have no right to ourselves to allow others to speak our minds. It's not a case of being different to the next person.
It's an inability to have our own opinion and have strength to express that opinion. We feel love and hate but express them in our own way. We need the same individual expression of our feelings too. My view will hopefully not take you through the passive centre, but steer you to uneasiness and from there, will begin the process of thinking. I hold no answers.
Cosey Fanni Tutti.
(photos 26 27 28 29 30)
WOMAN'S ROLL 1976
A.I.R. Gallery, London July 7th 1976.
To be alone in a room.
To be alone in a room with few people and to make those people alone also. Each of us alone, drifting surrounded by a feeling of warmth and softness.
I hear myself and feel myself moving. Each movement comes, it is not summoned.
My body has held itself and finally I become aware of the people and there is stillness in the room. My action is complete.
Cosey Fanni Tutti.
'OPINIONS': COSEY FANNI TUTTI
Brighton Zap Club
COSEY FANNI TUTTI coldly hangs white ribbons round the string supports of the thin white shelter above her. Crouched below a makeshift cellophane canopy - wearing only a white leotard and with the harsh echoes of a droning, draining Conspiracy International (CTI) soundtrack splintering the sense and order around her - she ties white skeins round her thighs and paints thick white lines up her arms, legs and down her thin fingers.
As the synth track's bitter pulses of lush disturbance and richly textured peace swim round the darkened Zap tunnel, sending out sweeping, seeping waves of trippy black sound(s), the former TGristle Art Terrorist & CTI activist then slaps paint over her face and long dark hair.
Stanglely all eyes hang on her blurred image, screened above her, as she paints a line up the cellophane roof and scissors along it. The shelter broken, the air shattered by the bleak, pastoral nagging, Cosey re-arranges the stones before her, stretches out her long body and with cold deliberation and drab apathy cuts gashes in her white leotard.
Rapt, but unnerved, no one claps. A handful of laughably retarded feminists (who will later sit through the embarrassingly naive Play School feminism of dancer Francoise Sergy) walk out, denouncing the performance, the first in Britain, as "sexist" Cosey smiles.
"It's Art though" says a voice behind me.
"It's a laugh, though" says a voice in front of me.
My individual work is still a part of COUM. Coum is a family of experiences. It is an eternal search and struggle through false rules we and others have set ourselves. To find peace of mind does not mean a religious following and isolation. This is a false idea of the world we now live in. It is wrong to seek oneself in isolation when the world is proportionately city built, each full of people. One must live in the environment of the day and make that environment as free as possible, to as many people as possible. This is COUM. To give people what they already have, but that which has been buried by years of varying human ideals and standards. All COUM asks is that people once more work with themselves, their feelings, and in doing so, become aware of others. It is simple, yet very difficult. The simplest things are the most difficult. This is the theory I base my performances/ actions on. I never do anything which is not instinctive. I never do anything which is forced upon me for ulterior motives. Each action is a true action, pure and simple in its presentation, and there, for every person to take and interpret as they wish. It is their interpretation that is the beginning of their struggle. I accept mass interpretation as a safety valve against personal thought. It would be wrong to force anyone into COUM. It must be voluntary to exist at all. COUM is a means by which you can open yourself through experience and thought.
Cosey Fanni Tutti.
A TEST IN TRUST
"For a brief moment my belief in myself is yours to take and assimilate as you will. My innermost thoughts and private ideals are laid before you in trust"
I still believe we are sensitive. To hide behind defensive faces for so long has buried our souls. The need to communicate feelings and express experience is, for some, becoming more difficult. Suppressing the natural instincts leads to eventual emotional breakdown. Our only true way to communicate is through our emotions. I only give you what I believe, what I know and what I live. We can all offer something to one another.
I have always thought of Georges Bataille's work as being very private, yet he shared it with us all, somehow retaining that private feeling, that only you had read this piece. Not sensationalist when it could so easily have been. He has always left me with a feeling of warmth and reassurance
that life is as complicated as I began to believe but still worth
living to the full, experiencing more and more as you grow older, not less and less. A fine writer to me, he communicates guiltless fantasy.
Cosey Fanni Tutti for Georges Bataille Festival 1984.
For Studio International July 1980 by Cosey Fanni Tutti The 70'9
The 1970's saw Art in the headlines of the English daily newspaper. As a victim of some of the ridiculous stories I can speak about it with first-hand knowledge. When artists generally could have made a breakthrough into the public mind via the attention given these "headline" shows; (namely
Carl Andre's Bricks at The Tate, Mary Kelly's Nappies at The I.C.A. and the Prostitution exhibition by Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge as Coum Transmissions at The I.C.A.) they didn't. They turned tail and scurried back to the safe boundaries that have been set up by official, art
representatives. I am talking particularly of artists who were working in the same area as myself Actions Art, Performance and what became known as the Fringe or Third Area.
It was ironic to find established artists working in traditional media standing by us when they had more to lose by speaking out in our defence for what we were doing and what was REALLY happening. They seemed to understand the implications of the National attack on our art as an attack on the whole concept of being an artist in Britain for more clearly than the so-called radial fringe. The lack of united commitment to protecting an artists right to exist in whatever area of expression they chose by the vast majority of other artists allowed a regression to empty repetition of old safe movements and techniques, a new conservatism.
So now, because the artist of today is often afraid to create and say what he/ she feels, we are subjected constantly to work that is dishonest, heartless and therefore completely worthless. No huge political manoeuvre was ever intended by our work. I dare say when Society is allowed to progress a little, the art world will also. Meanwhile, the people who are living and working a true life have to sit back and be sickened by the safe "artists" who reap the benefits of what they were doing five years ago. So in years to come the safe "artists" will get credit and reward for what we and others were doing despite press disapproval in the Seventies. As we all know, an Artist is only valuable when he/ she is dead, or near to it. It makes one wonder. Acceptability is something to be wary of, we may be lying to ourselves but making others very rich.
Cosey Fanni Tutti - Yugoslavia July 1980
PUSSY GOT THE CREAM' by Cosey Fanni Tutti January 1986
It's time to bring forward, in all honesty and without hypocrisy, images that please, provoke and trigger thought.
'PUSSY GOT THE CREAM' is a collage of concentrated dual interpreted images of an aesthetic quality all their own. They can be seen-in many ways; one of which is exclusive to you. Interpret as you will, the end result is as much you as me. I have only supplied the image, you have given that image meaning.
Throbbing Gristle proved to be a disturbing force within the music scene, maintaining and increasing in strength over its 5 years of life. It awakened buried possibilities few people knew of and others were afraid to explore. The most significant achievement was the bringing together of so many people who believed in life to be more than what had been offered so far. A chance to express themselves with like-minded people, providing outlets for a wealth of ideas.
As TG and Industrial Records we proved we could exist and grow completely independently of the main channels of the music business, yet utilising many of their ploys with the style and humour that made TG what he was.
TG was a project which involved four people who each injected energy, creative ideas and ideals culminating in a highly potent force. At work this force was impossible to ignore. So strong that 12 years after its termination, that force is still present and still in demand.
The years of Throbbing Gristle were a time of great positive changes, experimentation and affectionate memories.
We all have to move forward.
Cosey Fanni Tutti 22 March 1986.
ALL TEXTS © 1981 & 1988/ 92 - Cosey Fanni Tutti.