Q&A: CATCHING UP WITH ANYA LIFTIG

Anya just returned to the US after a whirlwind tour of performances around Europe. We caught up with her.

SOMETHING HUMAN: As an artist, what attracts you to your subject matters? Like why a lobster? Why animals?

ANYA: I love the fact that animals communicate so much without the use of language. In terms of my general use of materials, I try to work with objects or ideas that attract me intuitively. I try not to question why I want to use a certain material, what it symbolizes, etc, and just focus on getting to know it

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SOMETHING HUMAN: Could you please tell us a little more about your individual practice, and how it might relate to these performances?

ANYA: I am interested in infiltrating public space in peculiar ways. I think it comes from feeling like a peculiar person with peculiar thoughts on a day to day basis. Making these actions is a small way of achieving freedom for myself. In general, I am just interested in doing things to see how they feel. It is the way I learn about the world. I think the photographer Garry Winogrand said it best. When he was asked why he made photographs, he replied, and I am paraphrasing, “To see what things look like photographed.”

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SOMETHING HUMAN: What do you hope to achieve/hope to make happen, with this mode of live performances?

ANYA: I think it is not very fashionable for conceptual artists to admit, but it is true, that I have a certain desire to entertain with my work. Entertainment may come in the form of terrifying, amusing, or interupting–but it is still entertainment. I have wrestled for a long time about whether this is a shallow impulse, one that is derived from a shameless desire for attention. I think I have about concluded that it doesn’t really matter if it is or not.

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SOMETHING HUMAN: Could you please tell us more about the kind of audience reactions you’ve had?

ANYA: Wow! Well, in the initial performance of this work in a gallery in Boston, I was attacked by two fellow performance artists. One of them pulled the plug of the hot plate and the other stole the lobster and the pot and ran out of the gallery. She later claimed that she released the lobster into “Pleasure Bay.” So, um, well. that sort of speaks for itself.

In London, the reaction was very different. People really paid attention to what I was doing and considered my action. Many of the spectators were upset that I didn’t offer them any of the lobster once I cooked it. That was really interesting. It was as if they felt that they should have a reward for staying with the performance for so long.  I had several people tell me that they got really emotional about what I was doing.

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SOMETHING HUMAN: What next, for these performance works as well as your individual work?

ANYA: I am taking the summer to slow down a bit and rethink where I am and what I am doing. I just came off a month long tour of work that left questioning and searching for answers. I get very irritated with myself if I perform the same piece more than three times. It feels like hitting a dead end. So I am working on stepping back and recharging.

SOMETHING HUMAN: Ask yourself a question we haven’t asked and tell us the answer!

ANYA: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? The southern coast of Nova Scotia, Canada

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