The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


INTERVIEW: Bight Of The Twin
The Quietus , November 14th, 2014 16:46

We get an update from Hazel Hill McCarthy III about her project with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge exploring the Vodun religion in Benin

Earlier this year, we talked to artist Hazel Hill McCarthy III about her collaborative project with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Bight Of The Twin, a documentary which traces their journey to Benin in Africa to examine the idea of embodiment, delve into the Vodun religion and look at its reverence for twins, especially pertinent to Genesis and h/er late wife and pandrogyne partner Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge. Scroll down for a trailer, and read our initial interview here. The film is nearing completion, but to do so McCarthy is seeking further funding through an Indiegogo project to wrap up post-production. With just nine days of that still to go - donate here - we asked her to give us an update on Bight and what happened on their second trip to Ouidah:

So we hear your second visit to Benin was rather fraught. Can you tell us why?

Hazel Hill McCarthy III: Oh yes it was! We were booked to fly Air France to get down to Cotonou, the international airport in Benin's capital, but their pilots went on strike. We got an e-mail from Air France saying all flights were cancelled at midnight before the day we were to meet Genesis in Paris to travel. This happened during an event that Luke Turner [the Quietus co-editor] was MCing, the Douglas J. McCarthy [Nitzer Ebb frontman and McCarthy's husband] x Richard D. Clouston [Cosey Club] event at Jim Lambie's Poetry Club in Glasgow. Let's just say that I was a bit "misty-eyed" getting the news. We were already up against the odds of going - really, I was fully expecting for ALL flights to be cancelled because of the ever-growing ebola situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. At this point, two of our crew had already declined coming so there was already some crew duty reconfiguring for when we hit the ground. Douglas dutifully sat for hours rebooking our travel by getting Genesis first to London and then all of us new flights to Benin. But the madness didn't stop as a connecting flight in Munich was mishandled and, in a bizarre turn of events, Genesis was the only person to make the flight. To their credit, Lufthansa took full responsibility, and helped us contact Genesis via telex (did not know that still existed) to urge h/er to go to Africa without us! We managed to arrive the next day.

How did the trip itself go? What did you do?

HHM III: We did get there in the end with a day to spare before the first event, which was the annual day for honouring joumeaux (twins). When a twin passes their life in Benin, the living twin must see an oracle who advises whether or not the twin who has passed will want to reconnect. The twin is never dead - as they say in Benin, they have "gone to the forest to look for wood". If the twin who has passed agrees, a tiny joumeaux is carved in its likeness out of sacred wood made from ancient baobab trees.

Bringing Genesis back to confirm the joumeaux of Lady Jaye was one purpose of this trip and this part of filming. It was a completion and acceptance of joumeaux Lady Jaye into this very serendipitous and intimate story that parallels the identity systems and practice that Genesis and Jaye set out to achieve, twinning to become one.

Did anything unexpected happen?

HHM III: Besides Douglas finding a razor blade in his omelette?? Many things, actually! During the first shoot in January, I was really captivated by this one tiny pink temple that sat on the outskirts of the Vodun market. There's actually a shot of Genesis looking into it from the outside. It turns out that this tiny building is called HOXHOXƆ or the "twin house". This is where we ended up at the end of the joumeaux event and where the final sacrifice took place that day. The police shakedown in Cotonou was also rather unexpected.

How has Gen's relationship with Benin and the ceremonies changed?

HHM III: I think that there was even more of a realisation that the ceremonies are so much more interwoven in everyday life beyond the heavily touristic annual festival of Vodun each January. The understanding that the practitioners of Vodun in Benin may also practice Catholicism or Islam seems at odds to the doctrine of each of those religions and Genesis' own distrust of "organised" religions and yet it sits perfectly well within the local belief that Vodun is the premier religion and any others are extensions or reinterpretations, and therefore are not seen to pose a threat. I think that Genesis had to begin to either ignore this or embrace it. Tricky if you are so vehemently opposed to the Catholic Church specifically.

What's next for the film? What's the next round of funding for?

HHM III: This is the final chapter for getting this film made. By the time we finish the film this spring, it will be a project realised and come to life five years later. This next round of funding is for post-production and is our biggest goal yet, because so much of what goes into getting this film realised relies on it. Aside from the monumental task of editing over 240 hours of amazing footage and that again with field recording and sound, we have Douglas and Cyrusrex (Skinny Puppy) as DJMREX doing the soundtrack and the wonderful, Ken 'Hi-Watt' Marshall doing sound. It takes a village to raise a film!!!