project image
Anya Liftig

first performed on April 12, 2020
Hambidge Center for the Arts,
performed 35 times in 2020


Westport, CT


“SLEEPER/KEEPER” was born out of a desire to play within the constraints of my own fears and financial limitations. I went to the Hambidge Center armed with a 200 dollar gift card and a car full of random materials that, since I can’t afford studio space, had been sitting in bags and boxes waiting to be activated.

Over the past few years, I have been slowly overcoming my midlife fear of performing live. A series of difficult life events happened to me, as they will if one lives long enough, and in addition to more grey hair, a new aversion for high heels, and an admission that I actually do not like living in cities, I developed a case of stage fright. More and more, it has become logistically and emotionally easier to work alone with the camera.

So when I embarked on this residency, I imagined that one way that I could play with the performance for camera genre was by creating a performance document just for the camera. I was thinking of what Roland Barthes wrote in Camera Lucida, “In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.” Using my collection of materials, mostly cheap shiny things and miniature animals, blow up lobsters and Jello molds, I performed a series of durational pieces. Since this was the beginning of quarantine, with the exception of an occasional food run, I was mainly left to my complete own devices in a spooky cabin in the woods with just my imagination, my toys, my camera and my stuff.

I returned from the residency in the midst of full on lockdown. I waited awhile to edit the footage. It occurred to me that this way of working—isolated, alone, and locked inside somewhere—might be an inevitable future. I edited the material intuitively, sometimes trying to mask my technical fuckups, sometimes just letting it all hang out. In the end what seemed to emerge for me was a discombobulated narrative of a misshapen human breast looking for love in a loveless world.