The Throbbing Gristle co-founder and performance artist is seen as an elder stateswoman of the avant garde. She talks about legacy, and the liberation of revisiting her darkest experiences for a new memoir

There was a time when the performance artist and musician Cosey Fanni Tutti was persona non grata. In her late teens, when she was still Christine Newby, her father threw her out of the family home and cut off all contact. Later, as leading lights of the art collective COUM Transmissions and experimental noise-makers Throbbing Gristle, Tutti and her then partner, Genesis P-Orridge, were driven out of their home town of Hull by police who were scandalised by their live “enactments”, which involved buckets of offal and P-Orridge dressing up as a baby.

Relocating to London, they mounted an exhibition of COUM work at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 1976. It featured magazine spreads from Tutti’s two-year foray into the porn industry as part of her art practice, along with a 5ft dildo and a Perspex box containing her used tampons, which were crawling with maggots. The show, entitled Prostitution, prompted outraged headlines and a discussion in parliament where the duo were called “wreckers of civilisation”.

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