What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches
by Peaches and Holger Talinski
Peaches likes a challenge. Her music is a genre defying blur of rock, EDM, performance art, theater and …. opera? Her stage shows rival any of her peers in stagecraft with costumes galore, dancers, light shows and spectacle. Her music and performance confront gender expectations with sexually charged lyrics. She has produced a one woman theatre piece called Peaches Christ Superstar and performed the lead role in a Berlin production of the opera, L’Orfeo. Peaches is definitely more than just a pop artist.
What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches is visual documentation of the past eight years of Peaches life. Holger Talinski, a Berlin-based photographer that has become part of the Peaches performance family, documenting the on stage, back stage, off stage and rehearsal phases of Peaches projects.
The book also includes essays written by Yoko Ono, actress Ellen Page and Michael Stipe formerly of R.E.M. Page gives a moving account of what attending a Peaches concert meant to her, In part, Page says, “For a sixteen-year-old gay person, she offered something I could not find elsewhere. A voice that said, fuck shame, fuck the male dominated perspectives of sex, fuck gender stereotypes, fuck not embracing your desires, and fuck not owning yourself.”
Page gives a fans perspective on Peaches. Yoko Ono shares the experience of a collaborator. Peaches performed Ono’s “Cut Piece,” in London. Ono relates, “What I discovered in Peaches was the new-age performance artist and how they are. They are not scared of being beautiful and showing it. Whereas we, the past feminists, thought it was important to look like soldiers if we wanted to be taken seriously, No more. Women are not scared of showing their vulnerability either. Not scared of letting their intelligence shine. And not scared of being themselves instead of being apologetic to the male species, or being rebellious.”
Holger Talinski captures that essence of the vulnerable, unapologetic, fuck shame, fuck stereotypes performer with his images. Talinski’s images spend more time back stage, off stage and in the process of creating art than they do documenting the dazzling performances. In one of the first images we see, Peaches looks like she just woke up, or maybe hasn’t been to bed yet. She’s sitting on concrete steps looking bone tired in a garden watching her dog. It’s not a rock star image. It’s not glamorous. Her hair isn’t perfect, but it’s real. This sets the tone for the book.
The images could be embarrassing. It’s a manifestation of the don’t give a fuck attitude that we see Peaches bundled up in bed, chatting on the phone, hanging out with friends and even squatting behind a tree, before we see the glitz and glamour of the stage show. The images of Peaches with her leg in a cast, singing from a wheelchair shows her disregard for convention. The show must go on, even if I can’t stand.
The performance images range from the strikingly vulnerable “Cut Piece,” (where audience members came on stage and cut bits of Peaches clothes off until she was completely naked) to the polished set pieces of the Peaches Does Herself movie performances. Talinski is an appropriately unfussy photojournalist. His images capture the feel of a performance. He shoots from the stage and from the audience. He shows us the view from the stage and from the pit. He show us the sweat, the fatigue of the work that goes into making art. Like Peaches, Talinski is unafraid to be honest. vulnerable, and not at all vogue.
Michael Stipe summed up Peaches, saying, “Peaches defines her time here in the twenty-first century. She will speak for any and all of us if we will not speak for ourselves. She is brave enough to be completely current, human and vulnerable.” I think that’s also a good summary of Holgar Talinski’s work in What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches.