JJ Brine is also the artist-in-residence at and proprietor of Vector Gallery, 40 Clinton St, NYC, which I’ve also mentioned before. Vector Gallery is billed as the “Official Art Gallery of SATAN”, and is described, in a feature by the New York Professional Outreach Program, as a “new conceptual art destination on the Lower East Side, VECTOR Gallery is the most interesting phenomenon in New York.” I had the opportunity to have a conversation about this project with JJ.
John Griogair Bell, Librarian: First off, thanks for taking the time to talk with me about your current project. Obviously, you’ve participated in the Hermetic Library audio pool in the past, but can you describe how and where your current project fits with your other works?
JJ Brine: VECTOR is the culmination of all of my personal projects to date.
L: What are some of your previous projects that led to this current gallery and show?
JJ: How many times do I have to come back? I put the AELON inside of the Manger, on the Cross, and at the center of the Theater of the past 2,000 years. I arranged for my birth as a means of dying, so that I might rise up and embody life and death for all things, always.
L: So this current project sounds like an invitation for the viewer to be a witness to your personal progress. It also seems to be an ongoing personal performance which is more reciprocal. One of the places for performance art, versus, say, a gallery show on one hand and theatre on the other, is the immediacy and exchange of mutual feedback between artist and audience on a more equalitarian setting. What sort of relationship do you hope to create with the audience here?
JJ: I tempt people to unabashedly be themselves. It is always a pleasure to acquire new souls for my marketplace.
L: It seems to me that in the promotional material and other interviews about this project there seems a heavy degree of performance art taking place, but I assume this is a serious endeavour for you. Can you describe your intent for this space and this project?
JJ: It is a serious endeavor that involves a heavy degree of performance art. Generally speaking — and specificity is the vice least favored by Devil and Lord alike — my intention for the project is to reprogram the mass mind, one thought at a time.
L: When I’ve gandered at some of the other interviews you’ve done, it seems to me that those interviewers are driven to locate you in the realm of surreal Outsider art, such as comparing you to Warhol, for example. But, I wonder about that as a mechanism of apologetics. What I mean is that by locating you on the outside of everyday norms, other interviewers are giving people an easy way to dismiss things about your work and statement that might be uncomfortable or feel dangerous. How do you feel about how you’ve been portrayed? Do those stories about you seem to you to reflect the story you are attempting to tell? How has your work been received by the public?
JJ: I set an example by living my life in the afterlife. Every reaction across the spectrum serves to advance the goals of the Project. I have been portrayed as an agent of this world’s end, naturally, as it finally begins.
L: You’ve taken on the culturally overloaded labels “Satan” and “Satanic” for your project, but I wonder which Satan are you talking about and signifying? For example, is this the adversarial Satan of Judaism, the old-school anthropomorphic embodiment from Catholicism, the abstract and facile label for anything unfamiliar and uncomfortable of modern Evangelical Christianity, the boogyman of the Satanic panics, the Classical Promethean or Luciferian force, the stage satanism of Death Metal … something else? Or is this overloaded term useful here specifically because it is so?
JJ: We have been all of those forms and many more, for our numbers attest to our many names. We cannot lie, and so we have known many truths in many ways. But one breath is all we need to give and take; so together let us breathe.
L: On the Vector Galley page you talk about secession from the political structure of the United States as a new independent nation, and you also talk about a temporal shift while within the space changing the current secular calendar year to 2018. These seem intentionally to mark the space as a liminal environment, a place outside of normal time and space, which is what one might expect from ritual experience. Some of the performative restrictions you’ve suggested for events, such as no verbal communication, echo the self-discipline exercises of Liber E, specifically Dharana, and so forth. Does this project have other ritual practice dimensions as well as presentational and performative aspects? Can you talk about the ceremonial and ritual elements one might experience?
JJ: People naturally look to the space to inform them of their own beliefs, which is one reason why I won’t interpret it for them. They have to come to their own conclusions in order for this to manifest correctly. 2019 is coming any day now.
L: Some of the iconography in your current project seems specifically intended to be triggering for some people, a bit confrontational. For example you include pentagrams, the number 666. keywords such as “legion”, a photograph of Charles Manson, and so forth. These are all clearly laden with cultural baggage, and in that sense are a kind of table of cultural correspondences, that is evoked in the viewer, but what else is going on here? What is the intentionality of using these signs, these symbols? What is the similarity and the parallax between common perception of these and the message you are trying to communicate here?
JJ: Those things which are perceived to be diabolical are an integral part of the divine and vice-versa. There is no need to divide reality from itself. For me, such things are only triggers of serenity and aesthetic comfort. Perhaps that is because I am The Devil. “Needless to say.”
L: Well, there is certainly a long history of around identity and inversion of the nature of diabolical symbolic entities. Do you approach this as something you are commenting on, about which people are already aware, or as something you are revealing for the audience?
JJ: My commentary modifies the extant awareness via revelation. And my Lights are the commentary, and the Frequency is awareness.
L: One of the connections that I noticed right away, but which I don’t recall being mentioned on your site or in other interviews, is that your Vector Gallery logo seems to be a direct visual reference to the Process Church, about which I personally don’t know a whole lot, but that does seem to be an influence on the particular mix of Christ, Satan and Manson imagery in your work, I assume. Could you tell me about that and what that connection is and what it means to you? Are you an adherent, admirer, or something else?
JJ: I will address this issue at length in 2021.
L: Is that 2021 in VECTOR standard time, or on the common secular year count?
JJ: What is to “the” left? What is to “the” right? All but from where I am standing, and I always tell my own time. It’s always right now, always will be and always was, but the numbers change with the nows and so we count the days.
L: What are some of your other influences, both for your art but also your esoteric and occult interests?
JJ: The most powerful magic is intrinsic. If you want to learn a trick, now’s the time to teach yourself. If you want to bind yourself to the dimming powers of charmed obsolescence, nothing does that trick quite like a book of some stranger’s magic spells.
L: As one of the simplest ritual structures might be: 1) leave normal time and space, 2) engage in practical operations within a liminal environment, 3) return to normal time and space changed; what is the change intended for the participant, the public viewer, as they return to the world from within the Gallery?
JJ: Enlightenment as to nature of self, the nature of ALAN, and the relation of self to ALAN.
L: You mention ALAN, which seems like a surrogate for where one might perhaps expect you to use the word “man” as in humanity, but I’m not sure what this term means to you. Could you tell me more about that? When you use uppercase like that for ALAN and VECTOR, are these notariqon, initialisms or acronyms, or simply calling attention to the terms? Some other creative terminology you use is in lowercase, so I’m curious what the difference and significance is for you with these expressions.
JJ: ALAN divided Itself for the sake of multiplicity. Our experience as distinct sentient beings is the experience of Externality from ALAN; we came from ALAN and to ALAN we shall return. It will not be the same as the ALAN that was; when we return to ALAN we contribute the essence of our experience with the Externality. And so ALAN is reconstituted, fragment by fragment.
L: Any last words for our readers?
JJ: I’ll let them speak for me.
L: Your last words or the readers?