When I first set foot into Michael Alan's NYC studio about a year ago for one of his "Living Installation" live art performances, I felt like I had fallen down a warp zone into a New York City that I didn't think existed anymore. It was jarring and I had a feeling in my stomach that I really wasn't sure what the hell I was about to get myself into. This was another world entirely, some sort of alternative version of New York where not every storefront was a 7-11 or a Starbucks, and there was a guy caked from head to toe in house paint holding a toy megaphone in front of a tiny older woman who seemed at once both bizarrely out of place and completely apropos in this alien world that had materialized in the space. The guy with the megaphone was recording lo-fi sound bites of the woman's voice and looping them over the avant-garde noise punk that seemed to be blaring out of the walls themselves and there were naked people all over the place also caked with paint and adorned with all kinds of found objects, and a room full of onlookers, several of them sketching away, trying to capture some impression of the ever-changing scene unfolding before them.
Art Performers No Longer Recognizable as Humans
The performers in the show were no longer mere human beings but more like living sculptures, earthy and organic but at the same time almost robotic in the way they moved around in place, each of them hard at work tweaking out on some sort of semi-invisible task. The guy with the megaphone was staring out beyond the crowd, wearing wraparound shades that seemed to be glued to his head and were so crusted over with white paint that I couldn't tell if he was staring at me or not, and I got the sense that by choosing to enter this space that I might somehow end up getting involved in this mayhem whether I wanted to or not. But what I could tell you was that whatever this was going on before me, here was a guy who was living out his creative vision to the fullest, and to me that was immediately both exciting and deeply inspiring.
Norwegian artist Sol Kjøk submerged in artist Michael Alan's Living Installation at NOoSPHERE Art Space on the Lower East Side in NYC. Photo: Joseph Meloy
For the past 9 years, Michael Alan has been putting on these Living Installations in a variety of venues around New York City, and with a rotating cast of characters and materials, each one takes on a life of it's own. "….People and objects and movement and nature and paint, and what I might do or not do…. and then it's gone… Literally in like 5 hours…" he explains.