Magazine article Tate Etc.

Cosey Fanni Tutti Talks Frankly to Tate Etc. about Art, Sex and Music

Magazine article Tate Etc.

Cosey Fanni Tutti Talks Frankly to Tate Etc. about Art, Sex and Music

Article excerpt

From her beginnings as an artist living in Hull in the late 1960s, Cosey Fanni Tutti has challenged the boundaries of contemporary art and electronic music. She has worked as a pornographic model and striptease artiste, and alongside Genesis P-Orridge was part of the art and music collective COUM Transmissions, whose performances consistently shook social convention, and the group Throbbing Gristle. In 1975 COUM represented Britain at the 9th Biennale de Paris, and in 1976 their Prostitution show at the ICA prompted the Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn to declare them the 'Wreckers of Civilisation'. Tate Etc. spoke to her on the eve of her COUM Transmissions exhibition in Hull and the publication of her memoir^«, Sex, Music.

Tate Etc. What came first, art or music?

Cosey Fanni Tutti Music came first, but art was already there. I studied piano when I was at high school and played classical music. My dad used to build radios and circuit boards, so my ear was getting tuned in a very different way at an early age. He'd bought me a tape recorder, and I was experimenting with that. I got thrown out of home in 1969 at 17, so I just had to get on with my life. Then art and music were my life, nothing else.

Tate Etc. Where did your name come from?

CFT It just evolved. I've had various nicknames since I was very young. When I met Genesis he would call me Cosmosis, which changed to Cosey. One day, when I was doing mail art, the director of Matt's Gallery, Robin Klassnik, wrote to me and addressed it Cosey Fanni Tutti - which I later learned means 'as all women should be'. So it found a place in my life at the right time.

Tate Etc. What was COUM's initial objective?

CFT To have an objective you have to have boundaries, and we didn't have any. We were all into dada and surrealism, but we had the added advantage that, while our generation rejected our parents' way of living, we just wanted freedom - freedom of expression, completely. We just bounced ideas around and did whatever we wanted to do. Nothing was off-limits, and that's what was great about COUM.

Tate Etc. Did what you were doing feel subversive in the moment of its making?

CFT No - the odd thing is that it didn't. And I think that had a lot to do with the fact that we were isolated in our own world as COUM, as a family. In that situation, you encourage one another to expand on ideas and on yourself - finding and expressing yourself and living your fantasies. …

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