COUM Comes Home
Before the controversy of the 90s Britart movement, before Tracey Emin displayed used tampons and Marc Quinn used his own bodily fluids to create art, COUM Transmissions had been there and done that way back in the 70s. The avant-garde art collective shocked the establishment in 1976 with their exhibition Prostitution, which saw them described as the “wreckers of civilisation” in Parliament. COUM came to a crashing crescendo, with the core members forming the pioneers of industrial music Throbbing Gristle, who played their first gig at the Prostitution show. A show that was the culmination of 7 years of artistic hell-raising, that began in a squat in Hull in 1969.
Over 40 years later COUM Transmissions are back in where it all started, with a series of events, talks and exhibitions that explore the work of Hull’s own Les enfants terribles of art. From the 3rd of February until the 22nd of March, the COUM Transmissions event series will explore the legacy of the group, starting with an opening event to be held at Fruit on Humber Street. Close to where COUM had one of their squats, known as the Ho –Ho Funhouse. The event will see a return of Genesis P-Orridge and Hull’s own Cosey Fanni Tutti to the city. They will use multi-media techniques to reflect on the legacy of COUM and its influence as a force that can still be felt to this day.
From the 3rd of February until the 22nd of March the new Humber Street Gallery will play host to a retrospective exhibition of COUM’s work. Be warned though, the exhibition will contain explicit material. In addition to the exhibition, the COUM season features a series of live events, exploring the work of the collective and their influence of art and music. On the afternoon of the 4th of February, there is a panel discussion at Fruit, exploring the activity and legacy of COUM in greater depth. Speakers include Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge, COUM members Spydee, Foxtrot Echo and ‘technical director’ John Lacey. The evening of the 4th sees the infamous Cosey Club brought to The Tunnel Bar by its founder Richard Coulson. One of London’s finest underground club nights. Clouston is joined by one of the UK’s foremost techno producers Perc for an exclusive DJ set at this very special event.
The 17th of March COUM are having a social at the Humber Street Gallery. With a reading by Adelle Stripe to open the evening, followed by a reading from Cosey Fanni Tutti from her autobiography ART SEX MUSIC. The evening will continue with a Q&A with Lee Brackstone of Faber & Faber. The 18th of March ‘s Legacy of COUM will focus on the lasting legacy of COUM Transmissions and the projects that followed the group’s dissolution in 1976. This first event will present a performance from Surgeon, an artist firmly embedded within the post-COUM musical milieu, exemplified in part by his Coil-influenced 1999 Tresor album Force And Form and an appearance in the audience at Throbbing Gristle’s 2004 Astoria show. Headlining will be Carter Tutti Void, the trio of Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Nik Void of Factory Floor, a cross-generational group who have provided an exhilarating, visceral antithesis to contemporary cultural and social monotone.
The final live event of the COUM season will see the Polar Bear taken over on the 19th on March. Finishing off proceedings will be a showcase of Hull-inspired sets from some of the city’s underground exports; cultural innovators who grew up in the city and the surrounding area in the post-COUM years and can just about recall a youth spent loitering on Queen’s Gardens and mainlining toxic green cocktails in Spiders. Heading up the bill will be Kiran Sande of Blackest Ever Black, an underground label that has been championing sonically dark mischief since 2010, and whose mix CD-Rs ID Mud and Dream Theory In Haltemprice have touched upon Hull in more than name alone.
Information on the COUM Transmissions season can be found at the Hull 2017 website: hull2017.co.uk/coum
Words | Rich Sharp Wilson