JJ Brine (born Jonathan Friel) is an American visual artist and gallerist. The artist calls himself "The Crown Prince of Hell." He curates and operates Vector Gallery in New York City, which has drawn attention and critical response for its avant-garde postmodern multimedia narratives on Abrahamic religions. The gallery has attracted controversy as “The official art gallery of Satan” and purported operations as a sovereign nation with its own time zone, theology, and community of adherents, Vectorians. Some refer to the gallery as a cult, and to Brine in turn as a cult leader. In an interview with V Magazine, Brine clarifies that Vector is not a cult. "We're really a group of close friends. We have the same religion, but we practice it differently. The practice of our religion is making art."
|Birth name||Jonathan Friel|
|Born||November 8, 1983|
|Occupation(s)||Installation Artist, Singer/Songwriter, Filmmaker|
|Associated acts||The LaBiancas, CodeCracker, Girls Love Ghosts|
The NYC location closed when Brine traveled to Tanna, Vanuatu and opened for a period on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. The press reported Brine’s intentions to move Vector from LA to Washington, DC during the American presidential election season. As of the fall of 2017, the Vector Gallery is located at 951 Grand Street in Brooklyn.
Before becoming an artist, Brine attended graduate school at American University of Beirut and was an assistant to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Earlier, he interned for the American-Turkish Council.
Brine refers to his installations as "Shrines" and his exhibits combine performance art and visual narrative and his work has been compared to that of Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol.
Brine was sponsored by Select Fair in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 and opened Vector Gallery on site. Part of the gallery’s participation included "Body As Commodity", an installation in which Lena Marquise, performance artist and Vectorian minister of state, charged cell phones with her vagina. Musical artist Usher visited Vector on December 3, 2014, participated and charged his cell phone inside the installation. It was the top story generated during Art Basel. In 2015, Brine was commissioned by clothing retailer Opening Ceremony to provide the space for their tribute to Gregg Araki’s Doom Generation. In 2015 Brine returned to Art Basel and was sponsored by The Satellite Show. His "Satanic Suicide Hotline" won ArtFCity's annual "Who Wore It Better" critique. In December 2015, Brine staged a retrial for Charles Manson in which Manson was played by his reputed son Matthew Roberts.
On July 15, 2013 Brine opened Vector Gallery on 40 Clinton Street in the Lower East Side of New York. However, the venue lost its lease at the end of May 2014 and the gallery relocated to 154 East Broadway, straddling the border between the Lower East Side and Chinatown, 11 days later. The second space contained a backroom signposted, "Cost Of Entry Your Soul."
Critics praised Brine's work for its originality and vision and it was compared to Andy Warhol's Factory by The Huffington Post ("LOOK: Is this the Next Warhol Factory?") but the gallery has been a subject of controversy for many neighborhood residents due to its occult theme and Brine's intense imagery of Satanism and Charles Manson and fringe elements have connected Brine's work to the Illuminati. Guestofaguest.com described the installation: "Is it the lair of a mad scientist? An occult apothecary? A wonderland of neon worship? Well, it's sort of all that (and more) rolled up into one unique gallery space, run by resident artist JJ Brine." OracleTalk.com also wrote, "Implementing cool DIY principle and conjuring references to Duchamp’s ready-mades and rollicking religious iconography, the Vector Gallery is a gushing cornucopia of hypnotizing elements, provocative subject matter and lots of mirrors." Vice’s Mitchell Sunderland called it "one of the last original places on the Lower East Side." Urban Resource has also called Vector the "most controversial art gallery" in New York City.
"Vector Gallery is a gift of creativity to New York, instead of another place to buy stuff," wrote Art Nerd New York's Lori Zimmer The gallery has also been described as being "among contemporary art’s foremost installation spaces."
Brine was also one of the last guests featured on East Village Radio's final hours of broadcasting on the Andrew Andrew show, where Brine performed The Ritual of Infinite Names, or "ALAN". The hosts said that VECTOR closing its Clinton street location was "almost as important as CBGB's," and that the interview was "the last, and possibly the best" of their decade-long series.
In April 2015 Brine announced the NOIR (Night Of Interior Restitution) Covenant, which detailed the means by which souls could be reclaimed and offered "an irreversible decline" to the city of New York.
Brine moved the Vector Gallery to Los Angeles in the summer of 2015. Vector Gallery opened at 8 pm, August 8, 2015 on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, again generating attention from the art press and controversy and protests from local residents. On December 28, 2015 the Vector Gallery hosted "The Retrial Of Charles Manson", featuring Manson's alleged biological son Mathew Roberts. "The Retrial Of Charles Manson" was covered by media outlets such as TMZ. After closing the gallery in Los Angeles, Brine announced plans to open it in Washington, DC “to program the elections, to make my commentary on them.”
The Vector Gallery moved back to New York City with its fourth incarnation opening in August 2016 at 199 E. 3rd Street in the East Village. The Vector Gallery endured an electrical fire in January 2017; the gallery sustained minor danger. During the "Bravana: Middle East Peace Mass" on March 1, 2017 (which also happened to be Ash Wednesday) an onlooker on the street called 911, mistaking controlled flames being used in the mass for a fire. The FDNY showed up with three trucks and over 20 fire fighters to shut down the small gallery space for the night. On March 31, 2017 New York City Buildings Department filed complaints that the Vector Gallery was "being used illegally for religious assembly". The East Village location of the Vector Gallery closed on July 1.
The fifth incarnation of the Vector Gallery, dubbed "Vector V: The official art gallery of Jesus Christ", is slated to open at 951 Grand Street in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 16, 2017.
Vector has its foundations in the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Brine describes Vector as the fourth chapter and final chapter in a tetraology preceded by the Torah, Bible and the Quran. Although Vector presents itself as "the official art gallery of Satan", the supreme Vectorian deity is identified as ALAN. Brine describes the lemniverse as a "temporal-spatial simulation experiment". ALAN communicates with other "embodied fragments of its will" through the experiments in the simulation. Brine predicts the world will end in 2033 AD through the simultaneous annihilation of all life on earth, or the return to ALAN.
In popular cultureEdit
JJ Brine has been called “an icon of post-American America.” In October 2014, stories about Brine’s relationship with American actress Amanda Bynes started appearing in tabloids. In September 2015, Vice ran an article depicting an event in which Brine and his Vectorian Government placed a curse on Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, citing her refusal to issue gay marriage certificates as the motive for the ritual. Brine’s art has been praised by underground filmmakers John Waters and Bruce LaBruce. Brine’s occultism has drawn the attention of conspiracy theorists, who believe he is part of a new world order global conspiracy.
- President of Mozambique (2012, DrugLord Records)
With The LaBiancas
- Charles Manson is Jesus Christ (2013, DrugLord Records)
- "Monarch Butterfly" (2012, DrugLord Records)
With the LaBiancas
- Charles in Charge (2013, DrugLord Records)
- Charles Manson is Jesus Christ (2013. DrugLord Records)
- I'll Never Say Never to Always (2013, DrugLord Records)
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