Bushwick couple's 'Human Canvas' embraces 'punk art' with six-hour, live installation

2018-05-10 | amNewYork

May 10--It's not what you're expecting.

Bushwick couple Michael Alan and Jadda Cat are capturing the absurdity of life in a live, six-hour painting marathon, where they will become art themselves.

Using paint, props, food and anything else they can find, they'll weave a story about being the subject of a piece of art, painting and gluing things to themselves and a 7-foot canvas at their Bushwick studio Saturday evening for "The Human Canvas."

Aside from those guidelines, there's no set rules or expectations that Alan and Cat have as to what will go down during the performance. It's improvised, set to music or sound effects, and based on a loose script they've come up with.

Photo Credit: Michael Alan

Essentially, the artists will act out as if they're an art couple (somewhat autobiographical) but suddenly, they're on a canvas, as if Mona Lisa realized she was a painting herself.

"It's like prank or punk art," Alan told amNewYork. "There's really no rules in what we're doing. We're just springing back to that kid play that goes missing when you become a fine artist and start selling art."

That means no judgment -- it's therapeutic not only for the audience to let go of their expectations, but for both Alan and Cat, who use the freedom to explore themes and concepts without overthinking them, they said.

Viewers can come and go as they please -- some leave and come back to see where the live art ends up, and it's usually what they didn't expect, Alan said.

Photo Credit: Michael Alan

At past shows, the duo, their colleagues and even sculptures outside of the show have been caked in paint (the"anti-sexy kind of body paint"), food and glue, becoming a completely new creation.

Nothing is off-limits. They've thrown in puppets, Christmas lights, odd doodads, balloons, masks, costumes and more.

"It's a big mess, to be honest with you," Alan said. "It's like editing at the end when it's over. You go through your painting process and pull it apart ... not to throw it away but to see what is useable as a work of art."

"It's definitely for the fun and silliness of it," Cat added. "It's an opportunity to be myself. I'm watching everything come to life."

Six full hours of performance means there are no breaks, however, and it can be a hard task to complete, but they do.

"Things like eating fade away out of my mind," Alan said. "You forget about normal stuff."

Both of them hope that the people who come to watch feel as free as they do, not only in spirit but in action. Everyone is encouraged to sit, lounge, sketch and read while the two of them perform. It's an almost anti-New York City experience, they said.

"Everything is so stressful in New York; being a New Yorker is a full-time job," Alan said. "We want to take that feeling down a notch with these shows. There aren't so many things you can do that aren't judge-y, expensive, to be bought, ripped apart or to be thought about."

Alan, 40, began his live shows about 20 years ago when he started wondering how to bring his drawings to life.

Cat, 29, said she joined him two years ago, when she realized she loved seeing his drawings connect with the live art.

"You'll definitely see something different," she said. "There are not so many options to see something really unique. You can't even expect to see anything when you come to see it."

"The Human Canvas" runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at their studio in Bushwick (exact location revealed to ticket holders). Tickets are $20 online at michaelalanart.com.