Arts & Culture

Anya Liftig: Jewbilly

Anya Liftig expresses her desire to overcome failure by living entirely on Triscuits and having people pour glue all over her naked body. She’s also a nice Jewish girl. With a mamma from backwoods Kentucky and a father from a … Read More

By / November 3, 2009

Anya Liftig expresses her desire to overcome failure by living entirely on Triscuits and having people pour glue all over her naked body.

She’s also a nice Jewish girl.

With a mamma from backwoods Kentucky and a father from a super-Jewish neighborhood in Connecticut, Liftig draws inspiration from her family history to create a performance narrative called Jewbilly: An Exploration into Identity. It has a profound "sense of dislocation…[a] sense of being pulled in a lot of directions."

Liftig approaches the stage with an other worldly presence, attempting to connect with an audience while obviously remaining separate physically. This is a central theme to her work:

"A lot of my work is about failure…and trying to overcome failure–the space in between things where things are failing to meet up. And…one reason why I was compelled to do this piece is that it explains where that comes from. If I wasn’t an artist, [these issues] would plague me as a person."

With a screen behind her flashing still photos of her family, images of dead grandparents, family vacations, childhood memories and the scenery of her two worlds, both Christian and culturally (though not especially religious) Jewish, Anya Liftig takes us on an adventure that starts in the old world and winds up in her world. More a reading than a performance, Jewbilly is hilarious, depressing, insightful and entertaining all at once.

Is it hard to live in two worlds? According to Liftig, it’s about how you are raised. "[My parents] would show, by example, that they were interested in each other and that whatever differences they had were actually similarities."

And what about the grown up Liftig, who remembers having a menorah and a Christmas tree? "I culturally identify as a Jew although I am very non-religious. The idea of questioning is at the heart of Jewish inquiry and I think is very much related to artistic inquiry."

Perhaps this is the great strength of Jewishness: that the Jewish life, in a way, is performance art. It’s about how you live; the way you live the identity that is both created for you, and subsequently reinterpreted by you. And we should be proud to have someone like Liftig to set this example.

 

www.anyaliftig.com