Chris Korda, deadly is the question
An antinatalist activist with a biting humour, founder of the “Church of Euthanasia”, the American artist is celebrating her 60th birthday with her first major retrospective in France, at the Confort Moderne in Poitiers.
Chris Korda in May 2022, published in Terraforma Journal, Issue no. 3, June 2022. (Thomas Hauser/Courtesy of Terraforma Journal.)
by Marie Klock
published on August 1, 2022 at 7:00 am
[Rough translation via Google; the original French is here]
It is in an oven that we meet Chris Korda, at the bar of the Modern Comfort (Poitiers, July 11, 30 degrees), at a door of the hall which houses his first retrospective of such magnitude. The dodger is even worse, a few days later, when we listen to the conversation again to transcribe it (Berlin, July 19, 39 degrees). The computer is overheating and the fingers sticky with sweat struggle to follow the rate of speech of the American artist, skidding on the keyboard. The body disgorges, the brain capitulates. These words hammered out by Chris with all the energy of his soft voice haunt us like a chorus: “I told you so!” Not only did she tell us so, but she yelled at us through all possible channels, starting with this legendary banner carried around from demonstration to demonstration, available in stickers, badges, T-shirts, white capitals on a background black, no punctuation, no frills: "SAVE THE PLANET KILL YOURSELF", or "SAVE THE PLANET SUICIDE YOURSELF".
Chris Korda is 60 years old. Thirty years ago, she founded the Church of Euthanasia. She is an artist, anti-natalist activist, musician, coder, researcher, transgender, vegan, erudite, biting, talkative, impossible to sum up because arboreal, curiosity made flesh. Like a website generously stuffed with hypertext links, the exhibition devoted to him by the Modern Comfort, put together hand in hand with the Parisian gallery Goswell Road, offers gateways to some of the many intercommunicating cells. of which this fascinating creature is made.
View of the exhibition at the Confort Moderne. (Pierre Antoine/Photos: Pierre Antoine)
By way of welcome, above the door through which one enters this large hangar, a world population counter identical to that which welcomes the visitor on the churchofeuthanasia.org site. The units parade at full speed; by December, we will be 8 billion. As a teenager in the 1970s, Chris says she felt “fully aware, at the age of 13, of the possibility of ecological disaster. My mother said it was because she was reading Rachel Spring's Silent Spring [best-seller ecologist released in 1962, note] when she was pregnant with me. The library where I grew up was overflowing with books that depicted human assaults on the planet. Perhaps most significant was God's Own Junkyard, a photographic essay on the pollution and deterioration of American landscapes, particularly in the form of highway billboards. I understood very young what the price of industrialism was”. And overpopulation, against which she officially entered into a Dada crusade with the foundation in 1992 – after being visited overnight by “a being” who brought her the revelation – of her “sect of suicidal people” as the host Jerry would call it. Springer on his famous fucking talk show.
“You shall not procreate”
Within the Church, she is “Reverend Chris”. At his side, his friend and mentor "Pastor Kim", astrophysicist Robert Kimberk, presented as "a true Renaissance man, excelling in mathematics and painting" (two of his paintings, full-length portraits of Chris and himself naked as worms, are exhibited in Poitiers for the first time), but also several cardinals as well as a kind of bogeyman, the abominable "Vermine Suprême" who joined the movement in 1997 and counts among his acts of weapons of 'cumming in the face of Christians with a penis-shaped squirt gun'. The Church requires its members to comply with its unique commandment: "Thou shalt not procreate." It rests on four pillars: suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy. Snuff It, the quarterly publication of the Church, however tempers black on white in its second issue: “1. Suicide is optional but encouraged. 2. Abortion may be necessary to prevent procreation. 3. Cannibalism is obligatory if you persist in eating meat. 4. Sodomy is optional but strongly encouraged.” And to the concern of a reader who questions the first pillar, the Reverend responds in his great leniency: “Of course, you don’t have to kill yourself! But if you really want to, join the Church FIRST. Thus, you will automatically become a saint, without any other administrative formality.
A sense of sarcasm that explodes in your face when you read the slogans suspended from the ceiling or planted on wooden strips, carefully crafted because they are destined to be preserved over the years: "EAT PEOPLE NOT ANIMALS" (eat people, not of animals), “DIE YUPPIE SPERM” (dies, dynamic young executive sperm), “LOVE THE EARTH TIE YOUR TUBES” (love the planet, tie your tubes), “BONER DONER” (boner giver), “STUPID MONKEYS » (assholes)… As many messages as a magnificent series of photos taken on the spot of the demonstrations, but also videos filmed with a camcorder and broadcast in a pleasant little projection room, allowing you to see the situation. Particularly delicious, an “Earth Day” raft sabotage, a human being skewered and roasted like a pig (for fakes, need we specify?) in the middle of the street, or these actions carried out in front of clinics practicing abortion and where pro-life activists try to dissuade patients, rosaries in hand, their prayers drowned out by the chanting of Vermin and his acolytes: “What do we want? Abortion! When do we want abortion? Now ! Why do we want abortion? Because it tastes good!”
I Like to Watch (2001), by Chris Korda. (Null Records)
Between round anniversaries, shortages of raw materials and fuel, heat waves, fires and alarming regressions, in the United States, of the right of women to dispose of the occupants of their uterus, one could hardly have imagined a better context to celebrate the work of Chris Korda. She has been living in Berlin for a few years. The United States, this "place full of prudes, psychos, guns and babies" she "never wants to live there again" and she is ready to "go through all the trouble it takes to not have to to go back there". Including learning German to qualify for permanent resident status? That's kind of the problem: Chris still has a bunch of things to do on this Earth and isn't "sure" of having the time to devote herself to a language that she "doesn't like as much as that".
She is moved: "I would have liked to devote the next decade of my life to composing music for the piano, to continuing my research on complex polymetries, to exploring the universe of the new atonal harmony", but there still has struggles to fight, “even though I'm old, even though I'm tired – it's not the time for me to hang up my gloves yet”. Although overwhelmed by the feeling that people don't want to hear. "It doesn't smell good for civilization, but when I say that people just smile and tell me I'm right...and the majority of them spend their weekends on ketamine, and I can see why. .”
The devastating humor she used as a weapon took a hell of a burst of lead in the wing. Brigitte, the friendly inflatable doll who accompanied the processions with her carnivorous baby emerging from her bloody pussy, is crucified on a white wall. "This whole phase of my work related to the Church of Euthanasia was steeped in irony, because I basically agree with Oscar Wilde who believes that 'if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll will kill you”. But I began to change my mind around 2018 when I arrived in Berlin because the sinking of the boat is no longer a hypothesis: it is sinking, people are in the water, and we don't don't make fun of someone who is drowning. Ironic detachment is no longer appropriate.”
The Brigitte doll and her carnivorous baby, in 1996.
Acute awareness of the power of civilization
A long debate conducted online on the Metadelusion blog with her comrade Lydia Eccles made her understand that she fundamentally differs from her neo-primitivist comrades in that she "does not wish to see civilization destroyed": "It's true that I contributed to the campaign “Unabomber for president” [launched in 1995 in support of eco-terrorist Ted Kaczynski] but I ended up realizing that I did not agree. I identify too much with civilization! I grew up in New York City! Right in the heart of Manhattan! 56th street, among these huge towers! It's one of the most cosmopolitan cities on Earth, and I was raised by two brilliant people, intellectuals. I grew up reading, I wore glasses, I was frail, you could sum up my childhood by saying I was always picked last on the dodgeball team. All my education determined me to have an acute awareness of the power of human civilization, of the strength conferred by the love of knowledge.
It would take another two pages to talk about his computer work and his passion for numbers, and at least four times more to cover not only his discography but his rhythmic research; recommend the essential album 8 Billion Humans Can’t Be Wrong (“8 billion humans can’t be wrong”) for warming up and let curiosity do the rest. It can be listened to in full in Poitiers until August 28, and on the Internet as long as the Internet exists.