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Artist Hacks Photojournalism with Readymade Assemblage Sculptures

Dive inside the hypercritical world of JJ PEET's 'MAGiCSTANCE' exhibition, currently on display at On Stellar Rays Gallery.

For JJ PEET, the aware are still unaware. After analyzing BRONBiNDER_, one of several pieces comprising his fourth solo exhibit, MAGiCSTANCE, currently at On Stellar Rays Gallery, you might believe that you've exhausted any further intuitive understanding. But for PEET, the artworks in his latest series capture the idea that with any source of information, there's always something more.

Attentiveness and its ability to forge connections are at the heart of the exhibition, a feature that ironically clicks at On Stellar Rays once you think hard and long about it. "MAGiCSTANCE is a_Way, a_Way of Paying Fucking Attention [sic]," PEET explained to The Creators Project. "It is about those attentive moments of connections and discovery of things. It questions if you just happen upon something (Happenstance) or is it a magical moment."

Previously working as a ceramicist (and occasionally a painter), PEET now finds himself working predominantly in the arena of Rauschenbergian sculptural assemblages, utilizing his expertise in paintings and ceramics alongside readymades to form a cohesive concept. UPLiNK utilizes a scan of a lighthearted field image, a way to provide onlookers a direct access to the piece and subject matter familiarity. But together with the more unfamiliar circular frames, the overall piece functions as a comment on using photos as a vehicle of information. "I weave a lot between materials," he explains. "I'm interested in getting info out in different ways."

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UPLiNK, 2015. Porcelain, ink, aluminum, granite, sealed form core, and black and white c-print. 31-3/4 by 18 by 24 inches. Photo Credit: Nori Pao. Courtesy of On Stellar Rays

Admittedly, art, especially modern art, often faces the task of including thought-provoking messages. With economic collapse happening left and right alongside the tragedy of warfare—both nowadays and most likely in a near-distant future—finding an idea to tackle isn't too difficult. Yet in previous years, most art offered such stimulation predominantly through coded messages that requires a library of backstory. Erring on the side of simplicity akin to both contemporary and early modern political-centric artists such as Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns, PEET delves into the political hot seat.

Rather than taking a blatant socio-political stance regarding society, however, the sculptor manages to undertake an unorthodox method of guerilla meta-journalism qua political art: "Journalism is a universal way of collecting information, filtering that information and releasing that information back to the viewers," he explains. "I try and get into the guts of the piece and encompass that way of thinking."

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SHiELDNEWS, 2015 . Porcelain, aluminum, c-print, rubber, fabric, plastic, and acrylic on panel. 25-1/4 by 11-1/2 by 6-1/2 inches . Photo Credit: Lisa Albaugh. Courtesy of On Stellar Rays

It is often understood that journalism simply involves saying a truth that somebody doesn't want published. With pieces such as SHiELDNEWS and CLOWNEWS, criticisms of how we both receive and give the news, PEET does do that by criticizing our awareness. The former, an isolated, porcelain 18th century-esque couple reading the news while protected from the carnal picture of war, captures a harsh truth of the American upper class and their passive blindness to the war. On the other hand, CLOWNEWS, with its humorous colors and shoddy rendition of the camera, symbolizes the widespread plague of shoddy photojournalism. "It's like somebody who has a camera and drinking whiskey all day and just shooting a machine gun trying to capture images, and just quickly sending it away without thinking about it."

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CLOWNEWS, 2013. Stoneware, porcelain, cedar, copper, brass, and fabric. 7 by 12 by 4 inches. Photo Credit: Lisa Albaugh. Courtesy of On Stellar Rays

Like the subject matter, it's easy to miss out on these further ideas, or even further-further ideas unexpected by the creator himself. But, if we do as PEET says and "pay fucking attention," maybe then we can further understand the world. And maybe what at "something more" actually is.

The JJ PEET's MAGiCSTANCE is on at On Stellar Rays Gallery through July 31, 2015.

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