Aug 20, 2015 4:56PM

Meet The Artist Making Aliens In Manila

The truth is out there.

They're heeeeere. There's some freaky but adorable paranormal activity going down on the streets of Manila, but don't go running for the mothership just yet because it's actually an art project created by Leeroy New.

Part sculpture, part performance, Aliens Of Manila is kind of like an extraterrestrial version of Humans of New York, in which the aliens are documented on Instagram along with a first-person quote about their state of mind (example: "I'm not selling those. They're for building my spaceship. The world is collapsing."). 

We asked Leeroy to tell us more about himself and the project, and here's what he said...

Name: Leeroy New

Nickname? Lee, Roy

Where's home?
Manila, Philippines

What were you into in high school?
I went to an art high school. I pretty much trained in the visual arts and studied with performers, writers and musicians. 

In what ways have you changed since then?
The work and vision has just expanded. It's more complex and simple at the same time. 

What is the story of your Aliens of Manila project?
It was an organic extension and expansion of a collaborative practice with performance artists, photographers and filmmakers all working and struggling in Manila. Also, obviously, it references the very popular HONY but at the same time commenting on the 'human' aspect of it in relation to our specific socio-cultural realities. 

What do you see as its message?
Locally, cultivating a creative practice that is more immediate and hopefully more relevant despite the proclaimed artifice of the featured alien characters. The long term goal of Aliens of Manila is for everyone to pitch in and create their own alien characters and scenarios. We hope to show that this creative exercise is not exclusive to one social media account. 

If you had to describe your artistic output in five words, what would you call it?
Hybrid histories, mythologies, cultural sensibilities.

Who inspires you?
My creative collaborators and my immediate community inspire me to do good work. 

The aliens populate the streets of Manila. How do people react when they see them?
Very mixed reactions, I would say. Some try to ignore and go about their business, some take time to take selfies with the aliens, kids love interacting with them, while some just stare in various states of bewilderment. 

What fictional character do you most relate to?
I relate to mutants or characters with some exceptional skill like ninja assassins. 

What role do masks play in your work? How do you think masks effect how we feel when we put them on?
Having worked with performers most of my life I realise that these masks have the potential to be just as real as the daily performances we enact for ourselves and the people we interact with on a daily basis. The mind has tremendous powers of internal persuasion. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A ninja-spy hybrid. 

Whose work do you admire, who's doing cool things atm?
I could go on for hours but George Miller, Iris van Herpen, and James Jean are just some of my creative heroes. 

Photos: Courtesy of the artist

Nadia Bailey