MICHAEL ALAN IS THE NEW YORK ARTIST LOOKING BEYOND SOCIETY, RULES AND SYSTEMS
This Article was originally published on Hunger Magazine
New Yorker Michael Alan has been an artist his entire life, with his earliest of memories sitting on the floor, drawing and coloring. Not having many toys or friends; art was the answer. Michael would stay at home with his beloved parents, his best friends and make his own baseball cards, collages and toys, and he’s continued with the same art making process today in the way of ‘Living Installation’; whacky Saturday evening performance events involving experimental sounds, food, paint and nakedness. Michael brings to life the concept of living paintings, with bodies as extensive performative productions, a place for healings and surreal happenings. I caught up with Michael for a chat ahead of his latest performance show ‘Grandpa ‘Art’ McDirt ‘which is being held at his Bushwick studio.
Hiya Michael! Tell me what it was like growing up in New York…
Growing up here has been very hard as a kid, as NYC has changed dramatically. As a kid it was dangerous, poor, dirty but also amazing. Some of that left trauma for me, trauma I am working through. The ever so changing city is seen in my work, the colors and depth of the city. I would not be who I am, if I didn’t grow up here, for better or worse.
Do you immerse yourself in the New York art scene?
No. I go to the Met and draw, I see shows, I go to parks, I walk all around, I’m in the night, but not night life. I dress bad and merge with the homeless and riff raff, no one can pin point me for an artist at a show. I don’t want be a part of conversation at an opening, about who is cool. I don’t drink wine and I like cookies and bugs.
The New York Art scene currently…
Trends for sale. The 2018 boom is Confused and trendy with wine clubs, parties, meetups, free beer, and things for sale. Culture climbing. Culture is interested now in fitting in.
Describe your work…
I try not to. I avoid the question and act nervous. If I describe it, then I destroyed it. My feelings change, my work changes. Art that can be put in a sentence is not worth seeing.
And the medium?
I don’t let one type of material take over. If so, I burn out and repeat. I try and use everything. I don’t believe in racism or prejudice in materials. This allows for raw marks and raw choices that capture a moment forever in time.
Do you draw with intention or in the moment?
I draw with different intentions and various methods. There is no one way. There is no one answer, that’s what makes this art. Definitions are for the police, the courts, TV.
What’s the message that you want to communicate to the world through your artwork? Look beyond society, rules, and systems. Create your own path, help others with your actions, look to nature, get lost in art and get lost in creativity. There are many things going on at the same time in the drawings, performance and paintings. There is so much happening. Create as much energy as you can. Push on to live strong with your own creative voice. It’s up to you to live free, whether faced with hard times or great times. Don’t let illusions of the mind stop you. We are all human and share the need to heal. I hope the living installation is a place people can come watch and identify with some of the moments.
If you dedicate your life to something beyond you, give up notions of the self, then you also can let go of all problems with selfishness, self-esteem, drama, value, ideals. It’s best to not be a part of society.
So; tell me about the experience that you want people to evoke when they are at one of your performance shows? I would love it if people could leave their personal life at the door along with their cellphones and get lost in the changes and movements that happen endlessly. I love when people shut the outside world out. When they join with their souls and connect with the moments. The past is dead, the moment is what we have – if your gonna scream, scream with me!
I hear that Carolee Schneemann is a fan, that’s pretty cool – tell me more…
Carolee got some support tickets and wrote us a wonderful letter of motivation and support, that means the world to me as she is the hero of performance she has written a few times about the work and it means a lot, she is truly creative and makes and has made some of the most, free brave works I have seen.
Your advice for emerging artists? They need to find levels beyond self-notions, get really into what you’re doing and do do do. Don’t let anything get in the way of creating. I see so many people that could have done it who lose focus due to motivations in money or society.
What do you have coming up?
Turning myself into a melted version of my dad Saturday night, a seven-hour intense alteration of life. People can come and watch and experience a 3D living sculpture. I will be transforming myself live into a ninety-seven-year old man, who broke out of the nursing home. It’s a science fiction alternate reality show. I’m also creating new studio works, photo collages of performance images, self-portraits, and random things. Creating illusions of time space and transformation of self.
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