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Bight Of The Twin Screening
Fred Bowler , September 2nd, 2016 10:45

We talk to director Hazel Hill McCarthy III about the upcoming screening of her film on Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's reconnection with partner Lady Jaye

Bight Of The Twin, the documentary film by Hazel Hill McCarthy III about Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's trip to Benin and their experience of Vodun (Voodoo) religion will be shown at the London ICA on September 13 - you can watch the teaser above.

The film centres on the rituals of the Twin Fetish practiced around the town of Ouidah in a country which allegedly is home to the highest percentage of twins worldwide. In 2000, Breyer P-Orridge and h/er partner Lady Jaye, who sadly passed away in 2007, started the Pandrogeny Project, an attempt to fuse identities and ultimately become a single entity.

In Vodun religion the Twin Fetish is concerned with re-connecting with a lost twin. It revolves around the idea of spiritual embodiment and involves the crafting of a wooden figure resembling the deceased. The film does not seek to portray magical beliefs and rituals as an exoticised other, but as something real and relevant to us all, as an integral part of our human make-up.

tQ has been reporting on the film project since its inception as a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014. Recently, the film premiered in New York and following the London screening, it will be shown in a number of other places, including Moscow, Berlin and Mexico City. After each screening, a Q&A will be held, with Breyer P-Orridge being video streamed to the event. We caught up with McCarthy III to find out more about the film.

The last time we talked to you was nearly two years ago and the film was then in post-production. What has been happening since?

Hazel Hill McCarthy III: Editing…. lots of editing….. and re-editing because we were trying to figure out how to tell a story from over 250 hours of footage - there are at least five different stories we filmed in Benin with Genesis - twinning just seemed to be the most pure form of our experience.

We also worked on several projects including a collaboration with our beautifully talented friend, Amber Halford and made a new mini-documentary for RVNG Intl.

A lot of our funding came from the charity of friends, including Amber. Kickstarter and Indiegogo helped tremendously and I think it’s really important for ideas like mine to be able to call on like-minded individuals to make projects like this a reality.

We also spent a considerable amount of time trying to configure the soundtrack. I worked on mixing the field recordings we made in Benin to get something close to what i wanted to hear.

We never really tried to make the musical parts sound “African” as there was so much of the sound of Benin in every shot. Musically, the consensus was to give a unique perspective to what we saw visually in the film and how it made us feel. The approach was very hands on with synthesis to the visual cues we received attempting to capture the feeling of the screen.

As you have already mentioned in an earlier interview, you were amazed by the quick transition that took place and is documented in the film. As soon as both of you arrived in Benin you jumped from the role of spectator to that of active participator in the Vodun ritual surrounding the twin fetish. How did the audience in New York respond to this change of perspective? Do you think they ‘got’ it?

HHM III: The screening was quite an emotional one so I do believe the audience got it. Actually, way more than I had anticipated.

The film transcended the expected paradigm of the perspective that a documentary narrative should prescribe to. For me, the most important part of this project was to capture the intensity, the realism and the integrity of such a powerful and intimate moment that Genesis was experiencing - the reconnection to Lady Jaye and make that a further extension of Genesis’ existence.

Now we see Jumeaux Jaye (the small wooden doll) as a part of Genesis’ everyday life - formed in a tiny carved doll that acts as a transponder to Jaye’s soul in the immaterial world while Genesis still is with us (physically) in this material world. To me that was the greatest accomplishment with this film - to be there to document this reconnect of Genesis to Jaye. In a way, the film was never meant to be a documentary in a typical sense but instead this experiential moment in time that was truly intimate and truly special.

You will soon be touring a number of cities worldwide with the film. Are you excited about showing the film in different places and to different crowds of people? Are they all in the art museum context?

HHM III: I’m excited for as many people as possible to see it - regardless of the platform. The art community has been very accepting but that doesn’t define the audience of the film. Not wanting to necessarily present the film in the conventional film festival circuit is a decision early on that I made because this is more nuanced storytelling.

I understand that you refuse to depict Vodun religion in an exoticising way, while at the same time refraining from a purely analytical mode of observation. Where do you think this general interest in ancient practices come from? What are the touchstones for a mainly white, western art audience?

HHM III: I see exoticising as parallel to fetishising something or someone, so in those terms, I’d be taking something that isn’t implicitly mine. Most people’s perception of voodoo is already that it is exotic. Then we have Genesis who is also regarded as exotic and fetishistic, but Benin is unknown. Therefore, filming that moment made it so that that experience of being there and documentation was stripping down to the core essence of ritual and belief - a humanistic commonality that is our shared existence separate from pre-prescribed ideologies of what is exoticising or the opposite: banality and conventionalism.

Are you planning on working together with Genesis again in the near future?

There will always be projects and collaborations that Genesis and I will be a part of together - we both are creatures of continual creation. There’s no stopping us - even when we drop our bodies.

Bight Of The Twin will be shown at the London ICA on September 13. For more information, click here