"They’re Really Close to My Body: A Hagiography of Nine Inch Nails and Their Resident Mystic Robin Finck."

A Lecture by Johanna Hedva

Hosted by DRAF in association with The White Review

Friday 8 November 2019

As part as the exhibition "The Season of Cartesian Weeping" curated by Hana Noorali and Lynton Talbot for DRAF’s Curators Series #12, Johanna Hedva was been invited to present a new performance which was delivered for the first time at DRAF in London.

Johanna Hedva, said, “This lecture is from my book-in-progress, The Mess, which deals with the weird truth of how music was my first encounter with both masculinity and mysticism, and what a fucking mess that was. Encountering the mystical fury of Nine Inch Nails at age 10 was an encounter with everything I wanted the world to be: chaotic, feverish, ungovernable. After being a devoted fan for 25 years (yes, they are my favorite band), I still want the world to be like this.

Robin Finck, NIN’s reclusive touring guitarist, became the first guide I had who pulled me toward becoming the genderqueer mystic I am today. Finck didn’t look like a man or a woman, and he was not quite even human. He fit no rock-star archetype I’d seen, but was something closer to a demon ghost who beckoned me through an inter-dimensional gate. Calling him a mystic is not at all explicit, and it’s taken me years to realize that this was the role he played in my life, that by watching him slip in and out of legibility, I was not necessarily watching an individual, but what was coming through that individual. The task of the hagiographer is to interpret what is unknow-able; this lecture is my attempt at his hagiography.

Watching him play the guitar (and this is all we have; he only tours every few years, does not release solo work, and rarely gives interviews) taught me something integral about the body.The guitar is a body, in and of itself, and so you have to meet and understand it with yours. As with any lover, it requires that you invent and share a language together, which only the two of you speak. Because the body has to be simultaneously felt and exploded in mysticism, the first feeling that compelled me toward thinking about mysticism was how I felt in my own body. The feeling that dominated it, and still does, is that I wanted to live outside of it, without and beyond it. I didn’t know how to do this, or if it was even possible, but watching Robin Finck, continuously slipping out of the roles that the world tried to put him in, showed me a way.”

Supported by Arcadia Missa and Parrhesiades.

Documentation of the lecture can be found here.