Today we met the talented and creative Michael Alan Alien from NYC.
You are an artist and you also perform in shows. Which side of the job do you like and enjoy the most?
I like when everything blurs together and it’s a lifestyle versus a job or a show. It is not just painting, not just performing. I like being ongoing. I paint on my face, then I smash the paint into a canvas, then I stack that onto my chest, then I slam it into a wall, while making a song. Then the song inspires me while I’m drawing. I let it all out, non stop. Sleep less/do more. When we dip back into this “human” life of roles and routine we become less in the moment.
You bridged the gap between the Art and Club world in the 90’s; can you tell us more?
I was a naive kid working clubs in ’93 for food money. I drew at all my events, jobs, even when I WAS A D.J. or did the door or ran events. From booking Wutang to Fat Joe, I was still drawing all the people that came out. I filled sketchbooks and everyone was like YOOOOO! “Why don’t you just show your work?” and I was like “ whhhhhhat???”
As a kid I had no clue. I grew up struggling and with no art education so the Club world x “my” people put me on, and then I started organizing art shows at the clubs. Once I saw that I could organize I put other people on. I did things every week back then. I was curating in a way, from dance shows, raves, punk, palladium, horrible bars etc but I left all that and moved on into showing and full time artist life around 18, 19 years old.
Your signature line work has made an impact on NYC. Can you tell us some of the details of what that line is and how it impacted NYC?
I don’t think it’s up to the artist to determine if the work impacts anyone. New York City is constantly changing, the lines are fluid and always moving, overlapping, changing, like this crazy place. Everyone has a line of work, I’m just channeling the rhythms worked on as a kid and what I develop daily now, to hopefully make new language.
The lines developed from growing up here as a coping mechanism, drawing life, faces, places and movement. Everyone’s experience in New York is different. Growing up I was an extreme outsider to art. The line work I developed was without exposure to the art, even though I was born here. This kind of lifestyle is often overlooked in “art” storytelling when we think of NY. I hope we can start to think of other artists from rough areas that made it, but the common story is born into, or came for it???
I was born sick, as a kid I suffered from extreme illnesses and just became known as the kid that stayed inside and drew weird lines. Outsiders come from all over the world to New York to make art. I was an outsider in my own town, I just drew all the time and it took all the other New Yorkers to tell me to look at these drawings, to look at Warhol, that I was an artist and to go see a Chuck Close show. I was a strange street kid- I was always getting into trouble living by the side of the road. My NYC story is odd, but many can relate; they just don’t all get the chance to speak and I hope that changes in this extreme twisted culture.
How would you define your work, technique, and what your message is behind it?
I work around the clock every day. I’ve always been this way since I was a kid. My focus has been being free, making, making, making- from doing collage, sculptures, drawings, paintings, masks, music, immersing myself. I like to throw paint on my clothes, cakes on my head and do jackass performances. I need to escape the system and all this man made bullshit construct by creating all the time and fully being lost in the moment. I don’t want to conform and be a part of anything.
You say that your paintings are inside paintings, can you explain to us what you mean by that?
I try to create paintings that are not one dimensional. Even if it’s as simple as strange Miss Piggy if you look closer you can see a skull, a flower and an exploding eye, then maybe yourself. I have to compete with life. People are busy. If I’m making work and want people to see, I have to think of my competition, this huge thing called life which has so many pictures.
There are layers into layers, pushed, smushed and splattering all around fields of color that shift, faces inside of worlds and if you move in close you can discover hidden levels. I’m doing my math, drawing from different angles, different foregrounds, and multiple perspectives. It’s not a straightforward story, it’s more like a painted Matthew Silver bit.
What is art for you?
Art to me isn’t described by the word art. It isn’t something in a box, destroyed by intention, it just is. All the rest is just human bullshit, needs and wants. The thing that works is when it transcends into the next dimension.
You opened the Alien X the living installation. What inspired this installation and can you share with us more about it? What is it about?
We just did an installation on our Lower East Side rooftop with the city skyline, and have another one coming up. We recorded the whole thing live and it’s available to watch. www.michaelalanart.com/thelivinginstallation
During our performances we are creating human paintings, that change and melt and transform on our bodies and in space. In short we slap ourselves up with anything you can think of. We create robots, slam materials on our head, scream and transform and meld our skin, wreaking and creating objects, blindfolded and covered in paint. We speak about the human condition and the artist as a clown and the underlying emptiness of capitalism. My 84 year old mother performs! Jadda cat is my partner. I am just a clown.
People think of New York and they think of Graffiti and Hip Hop and an underground performance scene. We are continuing that old school punk ethos. New York has been shut down and there’s not been too much going on and we are trying to contribute to its rebirth. We designed the show to be accessible in the open air or by live feed so that people have a way to experience art safely again. We also at random daily walk around as living art.
Since artists seem to always be creating or thinking of their next creation, please share with us any of your future projects and dreams.
I have so much work around me piled up and in progress, and series upon series and so many various styles that I can barely keep up. I just keep working and I let it guide me to where I’m going. I want to keep finding the new without an agenda.
My next show is this upcoming Saturday, May 22nd.