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This couple dedicates their life to one long piece of performance art

Michael Alan Alien (@michaelalanalien) and Jadda Cat (@thelivinginstallation) wear boxes on their heads and paint all over their clothes. They are the artists behind The Living Installation, an NYC-based art project integrating performance and visual works with everyday life.

“It’s a reaction of living and taking life as living art and not having any boundaries,” Michael says. “It’s very open; we are alive, painting is alive, why not bring it all together at the same time? It’s an ongoing piece, it’s living in the moment, as art.”

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Michael started The Living Installation 20 years ago, and Jadda Cat joined eight years ago. As part of the project, the duo incorporates performance pieces — whether through random pop-ups in the streets or events at museums or galleries or even in their own home — with other art-based activations.

One activation is what Michael and Jadda Cat call “public art,” bringing paintings they’re working on into public spaces and free flow with their medium. “We’ll absorb the energy of the city and let that inspire us, and we’ll put that energy into the painting,” Jadda Cat explains. “It’s not planned out; we just go for it.”

The Living Installation demonstrates how art is all about the process. Jadda Cat explains that in art, there’s often a line between whether a piece is finished or a work in progress. Through their work, Jadda Cat and Michael blur that line. “Everything is a work in progress,” she says.

While they’re out in the city sharing their work, Michael or Jadda Cat will often don a wearable piece of art they call a “Box Head.” They have several different variations of Box Heads, each demonstrating The Living Installation’s eclectic, abstract style. “We wear these to lighten people up. We just want people to smile a little bit, or think a little bit, break free from the everyday,” Jadda Cat says.

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