Last time we spoke to JJ Brine, the man behind “the official art gallery of Satan,” he told us that Donald J. Trump was “pure poison.” That was in August, right after the Republican National Convention. JJ, the self-declared “Crown Prince of Hell,” refused to say much more about the GOP candidate, even though Brine had his own political agenda: He had just tabled a plan to bring Vector Gallery to Washington D.C. in order to “‘program” the presidential elections and cause “systemic shifts in the geopolitical configuration of power in the Middle East.”
Like all things JJ Brine, his ideas about Trump were enigmatic. I assumed that what he meant by “pure poison” was that he wasn’t a huge fan of the guy– until the morning after Election Day, when I found myself sleepless at 3 am, messaging him to ask: “How is Trump our President?” I figured if anyone had an intelligent insight, it would be JJ.
He replied almost immediately: “For a sick system that has systemically entrenched its own sickness, the prescription is pure poison,” he wrote. “To prescribe palliative measures is to sustain the malaise. PURE POISON is the requisite prescription fpr [sic] the induction of projectile vomiting. The whole thing must come to a catastrophic end in order to give way to something new again.”
So Trump is America’s ayahuasca?
JJ was hush on what he meant exactly, until he reached out to me last week and said that he was finally ready to be “explicit” about Donald Trump. When I asked what led to his decision, he was characteristically elusive. Regardless, JJ’s clarity on the matter came after Vector nearly met a “catastrophic end” of its own. In late January, around a dozen Vectorian Ministers squeezed into the tiny East Village gallery for a photoshoot, and immediately after leaving the gallery and going our separate ways, a fire broke out. The flames torched a wall at Vector and incinerated some of the art (sadly, even the “COCAINE” neon light is gone too), luckily no one was hurt. Still, the fire resonated with JJ’s assessment of the current situation.
When we finally spoke about Trump, JJ elaborated quickly, with the sort of passion you rarely see outside of acid-trip ephipanies. “I have an American passport, and for the first time I am just delighted to be an American,” he explained. I could hear him beaming through the phone. “Omarosa is in the administration now,” he continued. “That’s all I really need to say about it in order to justify my feelings toward it.”
JJ’s feelings on the matter are best expressed in a new graphic pictured above, which at first looked a bit like the Vectorian interpretation of a PowerPoint slide. (Just imagine, sometime in the distant future, sitting through a lecture called History 3001: Impeachment of Trump through President Yeezy, 2017 – 2028.) At the bottom, JJ signed his name with a heart. “It’s our Valentine to America, really,” he said.
The images pool together the Christian cross, the McDonald’s logo, and the Vector symbol. Another frequent theme, as you will probably notice right away, is Kanye West– who drew criticism when he met with the President Elect at Trump Tower and later hinted that he might run for President himself in 2020. “Kanye will win,” JJ said with conviction.
But the McDonald’s golden arches, probably the most potent symbol of capitalism and 21st-century American imperialism (i.e. globalization/consumerism), is what really stood out to me. It turns out that JJ really does have an affinity for the fast-food chain, he grew up eating McDonald’s, and it has remained a constant theme in his life.
“I met Amanda Bynes at McDonald’s. I’ve been on dates with McDonald’s employees, I am the devil and it’s the international symbol of my empire. It’s a globally recognized brand. It enshrines the values of every religious system it comes into contact with and subverts that religion,” he said, rattling off various associations. His boyfriend Michael, the Vectorian Minister of Growth, sculpted a voluminous M-shaped foam hat in honor of the worldwide burger chain. “So the cross really becomes the spokesperson for McDonald’s and McDonald’s really becomes the spokesperson for the Cross,” JJ added. “And that’s the best temple of America that exists right now.”
The golden arches is as honest a symbol as it gets– goofy looking, iconic, taboo, and embedded with a consumerist message (if red and yellow aren’t a subliminal advertisement for greasy burgers, then go ahead and call me crazy). In the same way, Donald Trump is an honest portrayal of classic American values: racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism. (Whereas throughout American history many more politicians and presidents, past and present, have harbored similar prejudices, they were just better at hiding it.) “He really believes what he’s saying,” JJ said. “There’s nothing untrue that comes out of his mouth. And what he really cares about is he wants people to like him. As long as you like him, he likes you. He’s a pure reflection.”
Overall, JJ seemed pleased that things are falling into place. Recently, he and Michael (who have started a band) narrowly missed a run-in with Tiffany Trump, who attended a party that the couple had planned to check out. “It’ll happen soon, though,” JJ said.
Meanwhile, Vector goes on. The next gathering is all about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, or lack thereof. Initially, it looked like just one more policy issue that would take a U-turn under the new administration, before Trump pivoted away from his own ardent pro-Israel rhetoric and suggested in an interview that Israeli settlements “may not be helpful” for compromise. “It will be a pageant really, a cathartic one,” JJ explained. “Where all the perspectives will be enshrined, and shown in an interactive way.”
For now, he’s feeling confident in the way things are playing out. “It is indeed very pleasing to me to see everything is in tune, exactly in sequence,” he said. “I am micro-managing global affairs on an energetic level and this is something that is a lifelong pursuit.”