Nowadays, it seems as if the art world is completely dictated by the hierarchy of the white wall industry, being compartmentalized into prices and trends, tossed around by gallerists. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring’s New York seems to have fallen victim to commercialized art spaces, wiped clean of anything that can be accepted as just art, rather than an Instagram photo or material item.
Bushwick-based artists and performers Michael Alan and Jadda Cat, however, are pushing to keep the spirit of New York’s early art scene alive with their monthly performances known as The Living Installation. Alan has been sustaining The Living Installation project for nearly 20 years, inviting people into his studio once a month to experience a multimedia performance that results in a unique art piece every time.
This month’s performance, Bonnie & Clyde, speaks to Alan and Jadda’s artistic partnership. “Jadda Cat is the portal into the unknown. This is a fun loving performance, a multimedia creative session. create memories and partake in the community of connection that creates the soul and energy of art,” the show’s description states.
The Living Installation’s founder, Alan, was born in Bushwick, but was later pushed out and moved around due to gentrification. “I was always aware of the underground art scene in New York. When I was old enough, I started working in clubs, meeting performers and seeing shows,” explained Alan. Alan now lives and works in Bushwick.
As an artist himself, he was inspired by the electric energy that pulsed through downtown in the 80s and 90s. “Art was punky, strange, experimental, and fun,” he told Bushwick Daily. “Gentrification is a weird thing. The old New York just seems to be disappearing.”
The Living Installation came together when Alan was inspired to preserve the spirit that initially had drawn him into the art world. As a not-for-profit event, The Living Installation aims to bring people together to indulge in an experience where there are no boundaries or expectations. “It’s so liberating,” said Jadda Cat, “While doing a performance, I can be whoever I want to be.”
Jadda and Alan met three years ago at a Living Installation performance, and have been a team ever since. “Becoming a part of the Living Installation happened so naturally.”
So what exactly goes down at the Living Installation? Essentially, Alan and Jadda, and sometimes other performers, turn themselves into living art pieces over the course of a few hours in front of a live audience. Whether they’re painting their bodies or performing with puppets, the artistic duo aims to shatter the expectations of what art is “supposed” to be.
“It’s just a bunch of different things,” Alan explained. For this particular show, “the evening (will) include performance, multimedia body art, comedy, inspiration, live music, punk sounds, projection,” as described in the press release. An additional female body, Indie, will join Jadda and Alan, and with the help of various materials, the three will become one.
“The Living Installation is like being a kid again,” Jadda told Bushwick Daily. “I think it’s extremely empowering too. From a female point of view, the performances allows me to break standards and expectations society places on us.” When becoming a piece of artwork, the performers aren’t tied down by labels or definitions. Instead, they transform based off of their intuitions during the piece.
Viewers that experience the Living Installation also undergo transformation throughout the course of the performance. “People are often nervous coming to performances, because they don’t know how to act. But by the end, they’re totally involved, and even offer to help clean up or hangout with us after.” Alan explained. “It’s a great way to bring creative people together.”
Tickets for the Living installation can be found on Alan’s website. And if you can’t make it out, all the performances are also available through livestreams. There is no drinking or drugs allowed, as the performance is immersive and meant for the purest of responses. Bonnie & Clyde takes place on May 18 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Michael Alan’s studio (address given to those who buy tickets), as well as online. To stay informed about The Living Installation’s works, you can follow Alan or Jadda on Instagram.
Photo Courtesy of Michael Alan.
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