Commentary of Anya Liftig’s Performance ‘Produce/Procreate’
Evening of performance presented by both Roves and Roams and OVADA
Written by Tiffany Horan
The audience were yet to take their seats; I watched Anya from the front row as she surveyed the room, removed her coat and sat down behind a large table covered in a blood red waterproof sheet.
She waited. As people began to notice her presence, a silence fell upon the room. She waited. She waited until she had gained everyone’s attention. She bent down from her chair and rummaged underneath the table. She produced a lamp, a lamp as red as the sheet she placed it upon. She turned the lamp on, moved it towards herself, up, down, around, circular motions, staring longingly into the bright light as it met her gaze. She looks away, looks up, looks down and begins to rummage again, this time producing a tray. She uses the tray to reflect the lamp light. She cleans the tray, cameras flash in the audience. The whir of the heaters echoes in our ears. She drops an object onto the tray, it breaks the silence. Was the object a lipstick lid? We wait.
She uses the trays reflective surface to apply her lipstick, she looks at the audience, makes eye contact and then looks away, thoughtful, into the distance. Mixed emotions flash across her face, from a smile to a grimace. Her body language becomes excitable, uninhibited, like that of a child. We as an audience wonder what is going to happen next as she begins to rummage again. She produces a cucumber but no, it’s not a cucumber, it’s too big to be a cucumber, what is it we wonder, this huge green phallic object raising up from beneath the table. She caresses it with her face, she devours it with her eyes and as it reaches the table, we see that it is in fact, a cactus.
She moves the light towards it as though to say: do you like what you see? She gazes at the ceiling, moving the light and her body higher and higher up the cactus. She turns off the light and returns to her seat. She looks bored, looks at the cactus and looks away. The air seems to be filled with sexual tension, a kind of frustration, as though her being tempted by such an object causes our imaginations to play tricks on us as to where this performance could potentially go. She turns the light back on and starts playing with it, turning the light off and on again.
She shines the light onto her face, the wall, the cactus, the wall, her ear, her t-shirt. Stroking the light, she moves it closer to the cactus, purring, grimacing and pouting. She strokes the cactus with the light. She reapplies the lipstick, the light is now facing the table, her breathing becomes heavier, she moves the light up and down the cactus again, faster and faster, circular movements, up and down, up and down, her breathing becomes heavier still, her arms forced up against the pot, she breathes on it. The light now facing the base of the plant, she purses her lips and blows on it, short, sharp breaths.
She begins to sing to the cactus, to kiss it, to fondle it, to lick it, her tongue caresses and plays with it in an uncomfortably excitable manner. Her movements slow down as she moves towards the tip of the cactus, her erect nipples and convincing moans both confuse and entice the audience as she squeezes her breasts against the plant, crushing it between her cleavage, her t-shirt raises as she moves the plant pot, she holds the cactus, she moves her chair, she pants and continues to hold the plant, she appears infatuated by it. The cold air forms a mist as she begins to once again caress and breathe on the cactus. She is calm; she lifts the light and sits back down. She remains still, composed, quiet, as though none of what we just witnessed actually happened. As though we as the audience had imagined the whole thing, as though we as the audience saw what we wanted to see. She appears thoughtful. She turns out the light, puts it away, stands up; she puts on her coat and leaves. The cactus, tray and unlidded lipstick remain on the table, isolated and forlorn.