Enigma: Art & Evolution
of Michael Alan’s
a photo review
by Mark McCawley
Michael Alan is an enigma. From the git-go, his Living Installation shows have not fit easily into standard conceptions and perceptions of contemporary art. Simultaneously a synonym for change and an allegory for extending his own ideas of artistic boundaries, Michael Alan’s Living Installations challenge the notion of unity of accepted visual and contextual metaphors with the density and layering of allegorical meaning — fragmentation, transience, appropriation, deferral of meaning, temporal dimensions — subverting any possibility of a singular interpretation by juxtaposing and transcending what appears on the surface chaotic, even anarchic.
From his earliest Living Installation shows (NY Healing to Occupy Yourself to State of Grace) to the most recent — The Anti-Depression Show — Michael Alan has challenged the increasing commodification and gentrification of the artist and his work by bringing together both artist and audience on the cusp of the work’s very creative genesis. Under the guise of seemingly random chaos in which myriad mediums converge at one place, one time — painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, music — the sole unifying factor being Michael Alan’s direction and vision for each show.
In essence, Alan wants to remind the participants of each ongoing Living Installation that they are more than just commodified art materials waiting to be bought and sold by a corrupted and corrupting gallery system, more than gentrified property bought and sold on a whim by faceless corporations and technology. By merging audience and artist in the process of creation, Alan breaks down personal, professional, and artistic barriers.
From simple skeletal line-drawings to the more complex collages and paintings to fully realized Living Installations, Alan uses any unexpected materials he can get his hands on — markers, cheap pens, garbage, kids’ tools, oil paint, mixed and smashed, masks, multiple textures, stolen objects, and cut-up drawings recycled and rearranged into boundless and limitless combinations.
With the assistance of friends, family, and kindred artistic spirits, Alan turns the people in his life into living art objects — or what he euphemistically refers to as ‘meat puppets’ — using paint, copied prints of his own work, clay, dirt, fabric, masks, spray paint and any other material available. The drawings, collages and paintings completed in the studio influence the choreographed motions, the look and feel of the performers bodies.
By using his own old drawings and pasting them into the most recent work, The Anti-Depression Show, Alan disrupts notions of old versus new; past, present, and future are no longer relevant: each drawing and painting exists only in the instant the viewer sees/experiences it. What was once old becomes new again. Alan’s art is never imitated or simulated. Only recreated, evolved anew with each show.
There is a certain conceptual continuity to Michael Alan’s work. The process of creation coming full circle. Spontaneous idea to two-dimensional sketches to three-dimensional installations of living art stepping out of sketchbooks to interact with their audience. That mythic art world of New York City made famous by artists of the last half century may well be dead and gone, yet artists such as Michael Alan push on. Listen to Alan’s own views on Living Installations, NYC, art, etcetera on The Living Installation: State Of Grace:
Mike Alan Alien is hosting an OPEN STUDIOS on Saturday, January 30th, 2016, at 11AM – 11PM (EST) in Bushwich, Brooklyn, New York, New York. Hosted by Erica Imbasciani. Come and collect Alan’s work, prints, canvas, sculpture, works on paper, music. HERE
Michael Alan was born in 1977, in Bushwick, New York. His work has been the subject of 9 solo exhibitions in New York, and has been included in over 200 group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. In addition to his work as a multi-media artist, Michael is the founder and director of the Living Installation, where human beings are transformed into unique, living art objects. These happenings are set to Alan’s original music, which is recorded featuring artists such as The Residents, Tommy Ramone, Ariel Pink, and Meredith Monk. The main goal of the project is reinforcing that humans are living installations by creating a space for people to open up, come together and are all equal through the process of creating art.