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About Le Peepe Show

A Conversation with Mason Jar • Los Angeles • Spring 2013

What is Le Peepe Show and how did you come up with it?

Back in the mid nineties, I was fortunate to see in person Annette Messager’s 1972 installation piece “Mes Pensionnaires” (“My Borders).  One of my all time favorite pieces is her collection of dead birds wearing beautifully knitted tiny sweaters. At the time I was creating mostly installation works. I was completely committed to the the process. I have often worked in multiples, intricately involved in the process of fashioning each one. I enjoy working with my hands and Messager’s work was completely up my alley with the obsessively crafted details of her work. Her piece got  me thinking: that as children we work out in play “dramas” …often transferring these narratives onto objects – dolls or action figures we have imbued with an emotional charge towards a catharsis in order to create a psychological transformation. I also could not help but to elicit questions (and the mental images attached) in wondering how did Annette Messager come up with all of those bird carcasses? Unless she’s got a very enthusiastic cat, it kind of gave me the heebie jeebies thinking that either she or a good taxidermist killed many an adult bird.

At the time, the internet had not quite taken off yet, but celebrity culture had already taken root and was center stage in the media. I began to think about contemporary American culture and its obsession with celebrity and celebrity drama in particular. I thought about how mass culture plays on America’s inner desires, the shadow aspects of the soul. We, as mass culture, critique and judge from afar. Like a child who plays with dolls or action figures in the Death Star, we judge “them” as if we are their creators having some sort of inner dialogue. I wanted to tap into this drama play, to use this drama to conjure an illustration of this mass catharsis of emotions projected onto modern day icons and archetypes.

So why Peeps?

Easter Peeps and Easter candy in general was really the forbidden fruit in my childhood household. My dear mother, an early seventies convert to yoga, health food, organics, vitamins and recycling, had taken it upon herself at the beginnings of this sustainable revolution to create change and damn it – she was gonna do it with her five kids. This meant that all corporate candy, soda pop and processed food in general was out the window. Which as a child meant NO CHOCOLATE or candy of any kind whatsoever! I felt this deprivation all the more at Easter than any other time. Surrounded by brightly colored eggs, ribbons and easter baskets, my egg hunt consisted of plastic eggs filled with goldfish crackers and raisins. YUCK. Goldfish and raisins don’t even go well together on the palette! Because I was forbidden to eat Easter candy, I became obsessed with it. Also at the time, being extremely poor and an installation artist, I was aware that I had to choose materials that I could afford. And Easter Peeps at the time were on this massive sale and so I began my mission.

Can you tell me about how Le Peep Show was presented?

Le Peepe Show has four exhibition platforms displaying edible Easter Peeps adorned in iconic costumes made from cloth and paper.  Some of these characters come steeped in pop culture, while others are more personal – distilled from my childhood memory.

My past installation work was also obsessively labor intensive, but the tone in my previous work was darker, more referential to the human body and nature. With Le Peepe Show, I was well aware that the tone at first began very tongue in cheek, like this cartoonish echo for my admiration of Annette Messager’s piece. As I began to sink deeper into the process however, I found myself sort of questioning my sanity, a bit. What the fuck was I doing and did this have any validity? I found myself leaving reason at the door and continuing down this sticky pathway until I knew it was finished.

Le Peepe Show showed at various large scale group exhibits. The installation of Le Peepe Show consisted of a room painted a light shade of pink with holographic glitter spread all over the floor and walls. The Viewer was immediately hit with the sounds of an amplified music box playing Ein Klein Nacht Musik from two speakers located on opposite sides of the room. Being a music box, this music would slow down, dragging until it stopped at which point you hear the massive sounds of a music box key hand cranked tightly and then released and the music began once again quickly unraveling its tune.

Personally, my favorite part of Le Peepe Show has always been the Ballerina. Situated like a giant music box, the Ballerina Peepe TM spun inside her own personal platform. Hooked up to a small motor hanging behind the pink curtain, the Ballerina turned, along with her multiple reflections in the beveled mirror behind. It was always a sweet silent whisper of my appreciation for the multiple reflections of Rita Hayworth in Orson Welles’ “Lady from Shanghai”.

How does Collectable Carrying Cases . . . only $19.95 relate to this piece?

As Easter Peeps last indefinitely, it seemed that some appropriately curatorial means of storage was required. So Collectable Carrying Cases . . . only $19.95 was “just born”. TM

Collectable Carrying Cases . . . only $19.95 was the work that followed Le Peepe Show. It has these hand fashioned wooden boxes literally containing and reframing the Le Peepe Show in display cases reminiscent of scientific instruments from Victorian Times or the elaborate framing of paintings, or of art in general. Imbued with sincerity and beauty, while at the same time calling attention to the perverse and crass way art is packaged, framed, and represented, these wooden boxes walk a fine line.  Collectable Carrying Cases . . . only $19.95 is both a fine art simulacra of carrying cases for Star Wars action figures as well as museum quality, object d’ art from the distant past.  It plays not only on pop culture consumer fetishization but also high culture’s framing and contextualizing of works deemed important.

Why Now?

I’ve recently been asked to compile images of this piece along with the other works in my Candygram Series into an upcoming book issued this Fall. This Easter season feels so appropriate to revisit this work and thanks to the Internet, to share it with a much wider audience compared to when the installation originally showed. Le Peepe Show and Collectable Carrying Cases . . . only $19.95 is also for sale through my ETSY STORE along with other upcoming items from the Mason Jar.