Micki Pellerano traverses different media like an alchemist. His work spans from experimental theater, filmmaking, to drawing — all of which transform and combine in a paranormal way to create what seems to be an ever-evolving creative canon. The artist has a show titled “Monoliths” opening on October 19 at envoy enterprises in New York City. Pellerano invited us into his studio to discuss his new body of work.
Micki Pellerano in his studio
Your upcoming show primarily consists of drawings focusing on the impacts of architecture, particularly, its influences on the human consciousness. If contemporary architecture has moved away from the monumental iconographies of classical practices, is your work then commenting on the regressed or static state of the human psyche?
Not necessarily. The show makes homage to the power of architecture rather than condemning where architecture has gone. I think humanity is evolving, even spiritually expanding, but our psycho-spiritual evolution is stunted by the obsession with economic gain and time efficiency. When the Italian Futurists spoke of human beings as machines functioning at the highest capacities, it was an idealization that didn’t manifest. In reality, machines stifled human nature and interfered with it. We are evolving but with a lack of style and spiritual fervor. Where are our pyramids? When you walk into a well-designed building, it’s like walking into a giant or a god – an entity bigger than you. My images are psychic elaborations on what that is like.
Your recent performance with Raúl De Nieves is based on Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. Do you view Raúl as your opposite?
The performance explores the Jungian shadow and alchemical principles of opposites uniting. Dionysian and Apollonian principles are compared – with the first standing for the primal, rhythmic, and savage animal force that is also creative and ecstatic; and the second representing order, precision, intellect, and harmony. In my dynamic with Raúl, I tend to be more the Apollonian and he, Dionysian. But it’s relative. What the performance explores is that the two principles aren’t opposed. The key is to merge.
That’s easier said than done.
It can be painful, as when seen from your dark side, your light side can appear dark. And the concept of the Jungian shadow speaks of the aspects of your personality that are present but somehow unpalatable to you and therefore hidden. They emerge as compulsions. But if they are embraced and worked with, they can become your ally. Good art is only possible when these two aspects merge. If art is too academic and calculated, it lacks chaotic and erotic fervor. But if art is too primal and savage, lacking in structure, then it loses its ability to communicate with people.
How do you maintain metaphysical philosophies in your work when living in such a busy, concrete city like New York?
New York is encoded with the yearning for divinity and divine power. Take Grand Central Station for example. It’s a building so full of iconography. The erotic statue of Mercury presides over it, and when you walk inside, there’s a zodiac above your head – a gateway to cosmic principles. In Rockefeller Center, where, amidst the Futurist-Deco-machine aesthetic, there’s Prometheus, the figure who stole fire from the gods, rising from the fountain. Around the corner, we have St. Patrick’s Cathedral, this emblem of psychic expansion that is so elongated and pointed. Across from that, we have the Art Deco statue of Atlas supporting the world.
New York is full of carvings and sculptures that take you out of your mundane, intellectual, tangible world. Maintaining a desire for experiences that are otherworldly — “other-level experiences,” as William S. Burroughs called it — in my day-to-day pursuits and relationships preserves these values in my work.
“Monoliths” runs from October 19 through November 23 at envoy enterprises.