Last month New York got to experience one of the most riveting underground art performances I’ve ever seen in New York City. Living Installation by Bushwick, Brooklyn-born artist Michael Alan is a site for new eyes, sore eyes, old eyes, bright eyes and tired eyes. For the 13th anniversary of the show, Alan held it at at Gasser Grunert Gallery on Orchard Street, and it was like something I have never experienced before. Naked bodies painted in fantastical colors set against a landscape of paper mountains, discarded trash, food, paint bottles and paper-mache owls as the audience stepped on top of each other to get a better view as they sketched, drank and enjoyed a night of merriment. For this special anniversary Michael sat down to explain the concept and background of Living Installation.

“13 years ago I would never believe I would be involved in a naked wild adventure,” said Alan. “I’m more of a blue collar Brooklyn boy who likes fast cars and loud music. But somehow the living installation turned me into the man I am today. I learned from my mistakes, my bad communication and good communication. I learned skills that helped develop living paintings. I learned how to animate my art without being another animator. I learned how to create bonds with every type of walk of life and bring back the old New York.”

"Living Installation" by artist Michael Alan

“Living Installation” by artist Michael Alan

How did Living Installation begin? 
Out of boredom. The lack of, I owned a club in the 90’s I Knew the town, and saw the emptiness in art. You had your galleries, Museums, but no place to converge, the downtown 81 was dead…..13 years ago man….My brother Odin helped made that happen, Rest in peace.

If I had to give a true true true true answer starring at myself in the mirror with a razor and a sketchbook why I started living installation, I would simply state that there is nothing like it. When I was younger I used to wish for adventures, playful, safe, creative experiences. I’d end up having to organize it, weather in my mind or be lucky to gather a few young fools. As I aged and quite well I took what knowledge I knew from film, music, creation, illustration of stories narrations, people watching , friendships, toxic splatters, fun fun fun fun, purity and most of all collaboration. And used it as the prime elements of living installation.

How would you describe the experience of Living Installation? As a show? A movement? A performance? A language? A lifestyle? A experience, a place to take a trip in NY, but not leave NY……A opportunity to relax in a alerted world that’s being created live in front of you, by yours truly and my team of misfits….we take all the hits so we can all loosen up.

Living installation is not my job. It isn’t a side project, it isn’t a show, it isn’t a play, it’s an experience where everyone is invited to be a part of a production or watch the creation happen live. You can barely find a fucking seat in the street to sit and think. I want to set the people free and give them hours to escape their routines– paint and draw and laugh and gather. I don’t get a secret joy out of it but I do get to empower some of my friends and myself. Live Now. The past is dead. The future all-ready happened

Where did the style of your models spawn from? 
I just made them look like my paintings, it just made sense.

Gallery view of "Living Installation" at Gasser Grunert in Manhattan's Lower East Side

Gallery view of “Living Installation” at Gasser Grunert in Manhattan’s Lower East Side

What came first, the illustrations or Living Installation? 

I been Drawing, not illustrating since I was 3…….I did make installations in my home when I was a baby!

To people on the outside Living Installation comes across as a unique figure drawing class but most people don’t even sketch when there. What does the audience usually do? 

No clue, I see people just zoned out, I see people writing, drawing, but most of all converging. Are they apart of the experience or just outsiders looking in on the mind of Michael Alan? everything is part of every experience….I left my mind years ago.

This is the 13th anniversary of Living Installation. Did you do anything different or special for this experience? 

Just burn as money and break as much stuff as I can in one night.

If you could have Living Installation anywhere where would it be?

Heaven and Mars at the same time.

You often refer to yourself as Michael Alan “Alien”. Do you think you’re an alien?

I think, I am not I.

"Living Installation" 13th Anniversary showing in the Lower East Side

“Living Installation” 13th Anniversary showing in the Lower East Side





Michael Alan’s next Living Installation will be on October 3rd. Tickets can be purchased here.