Bushwick artists imagine a ‘Female Joker’ in new show

She wants to take you on a journey.

November 21, 2019 Alex Williamson
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The Joker is really having a moment. Whether you’ve seen the movie already or have no interest in seeing it at all, you can get your fix this weekend in Bushwick, where two artists will showcase their own interpretation of the character.

Performance artist Jadda Cat will present “Female Joker” on Nov. 23, along with partner Michael Alan, in his Bushwick studio.

The artists describe the show, which is part of their Living Installation series, as a four-hour “emotional journey,” in which Jadda deploys paint, glitter, silly string, makeup, balloons, plastic wrap and other common items to transform herself into multiple versions of the Joker, “altering states between human and a living sculpture.”

Jadda’s performance will replace a typical makeup routine with the application of clown makeup, taking the common ritual to the level of absurd with the goal of upending the audience’s expectations for how a woman should look.

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“I turn myself into strange creatures over and over,” said Jadda. “I break free from these expectations that culture puts on me, becoming disgusting, fat, short, tall, feminine, masculine, or slimy. This can be beautiful to some or terrifying to others.”

A four-hour art show might sound like a marathon for both the artist and the audience, but Alan says he’s actually shortened the Living Installation performances since he started them nearly 20 years ago. The original shows, which Alan began staging at his School of Visual Art studio in 2000, lasted eight to 12 hours.

According to Jadda, getting into character as the Joker actually gives her energy.

“I run on adrenaline and get lost in performing,” she said. “After the performance is over, I feel great. It can last for days as an afterglow or a high with no drugs.”

As for the audience, they’re free to come and go, Alan says, and the laid-back environment of his studio generally makes people want to stick around. “We try our best to not present these in traditional settings. For me the chit-chat part of social art anxiety can be overwhelming,” he said.

The Joker iterations that Jadda embodies are derived from Alan’s paintings, which are brightly colored, busy, a little bit creepy and bordering on haphazard.

Like the artwork that inspires it, Jadda’s performance has a lot going on, (“Image overload. Just like NYC!” Alan says). What it doesn’t have are intelligible pieces of English dialogue, although she is vocal.

“She sings in gibberish, makes animal noises, or creates action sounds with puppets,” said Alan, adding that this is all taking place as he plays music. The lack of a script allows the viewer to “decide for themselves what the meaning behind her words are,” he said.

The suggested ticket price is $40, with a $20 minimum. Those interested in attending can find tickets here. A livestream is also available.

And who should attend? Pretty much anyone, according to Alan, especially those who are tired of “fancy art ass-kissing.”

“It’s about taking friends, or making new friends,” he said. “Or even finding someone that doesn’t like it and, boom! We’re on a journey.”

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  1. Greg Nolan

    The Living Installation shows are unlike any live performances out there. Picture super obscure David Lynch references brought to life and made even more unique. Sensory overload in the best way possible. If you think you’re a fan of art, especially gritty old New York, then this is an absolute must!

  2. Michael Kronenberg

    Michael Alan is the hardest working, ongoing born NYC painter and The Living Installation is the last NYC art treasure. Michael’s work is beyond anything out there now, it’s so thought out on so many levels. I’m a proud collector of 8 works!

  3. IvyHouse Studio

    Living Installation shows are an escape into a colorful and ever changing fantasy land full of characters and creatures formed in this loving art couple’s beautiful minds. Amazing humans with unending creativity!
    Support living artists!
    Support the Living Gallery!!