Art collectives are a dime a dozen, but secretive art action groups that blend creativity with ritual magick and human meta-history are very rare specimens. Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY), described as a “anti-cult,” was one such group. With influences ranging from Austin Osman Spare and Aleister Crowley to cut-up artist Brion Gysin, TOPY fused art, music, sex, and magick into a loose information network of artists exploring DIY ethos, transgression, and subversion. Members of the collective simultaneously formed Psychic TV, an experimental pop group that essentially served as the public face and propaganda arm of TOPY.
This morning saw the the announcement of a documentary on the collective. A Message from the Temple: The Story Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth will chart the group’s inception and evolution from 1981 to 1991, with interviews illuminating its influences and lasting legacy in the creative and esoteric fields. Shot and directed by filmmaker and archivist Jacqueline Castel, and produced by a team that runs the gamut from Sacred Bones Records, to Dais Records, to the award-winning documentary, LAND OF SONGS, A Message from The Temple is now raising funds on Kickstarter.
“Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth has been convened in order to act as a catalyst and focus for the Individual development off all those who wish to reach inwards and strike out,” the announce reads. “Maybe you are already one of these, already feeling different, dissatisfied, separate from the mass around you, instinctive and alert? You are already one of us. The fact that you have this message is a start in itself.”
“TOPY strove to transcend the normative constructs of culture, sexuality, order, and reason, examine and undermine systems of power, and reach ecstatic states of being,” it continues. “In doing so its members often hurdled past the outer limits of propriety, arousing the moral wrath of 'Satanic Panic' era British authorities and causing the subsequent Scotland Yard raid and political exile of the group’s central figurehead, artist and provocateur Genesis P-Orridge.”
The filmmakers have already interviewed several people, including V. Vale of RE/Search publications, Jason Louv (an occultist and editor of Thee Psychick Bible), and Don Bolles, iconic drummer of The Germs, amongst others. They are also planning to conduct interviews with Disinformation founder and current Dangerous Minds editor Richard Metzger, author and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, and members of TOPY, Coil and Psychic TV, with more interview subjects to come.
Interestingly, the filmmakers insists the documentary isn’t just a film, but a call to arms. “We seek Individuals to preserve the Temple that resides within us all,” they write. Not a full re-activation of TOPY per se... Something more like a clarion call for interested individuals to absorb the insights—whether they be discoveries, failures or otherwise—of the collective, which spanned multiple continents.
Apart from funding the production, the filmmakers say the Kickstarter campaign funds will also go to TOPY preservation and restoration efforts. These include what is described as a “vast archive of films, videocassettes, audio cassettes, photographs, and original documents” that will require some some hi-resolution digital transfers and restoration fees.
On October 15th at 8:00 PM, TOPY is holding a one-night only event at Thee Temporary Temple in New York City. Donations are required to attend.
Click here to learn more about A Message from the Temple.