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ANAM CARA – Mirror in the Mirror

2020Performance-based film

HD digital, 16:9, colour, stereo, 01:30:06

A radical, contemporary fairy tale. A collective performance-based film about the concept of home, produced and co-created across Europe, the U.S. and Canada during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in April and May 2020. In the rooms of an imaginary dwelling, we encounter twenty-two artists in performance action, rituals and poetic sharing about their isolated notions of home: a place-non-place, where the invisible is made visible and vice versa. Without inside or outside, we recognise the rooms because they originate from the depths of our hearts. There, encounters continue to be possible despite distance, quarantine and insulation. What does "home" mean when being forced inside, with insecurity, unpredictability, disease and death being the denominators of the moment? What can body-based artists speak about then, and to whom? Physically distant, how can a collective co-creative spirit be kept up?

A production by VestAndPage as part of the HOME cycle of collective performance operas, in collaboration with the Anam Cara Collective, 2020

By and with Verena Stenke & Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage) in collaboration with Aldo Aliprandi, Marianna Andrigo, Sabrina Bellenzier, Giorgi de Santi, daz disley, Marisa Garreffa, Francesco Kiais, Fenia Kotsopoulou, Ash McNaughton, Enok Ripley, Sara Simeoni, Mauro Sambo, Joseph Morgan Schofield, Marcel Sparmann, Susanne Weins, and Giovanni Dantomio, Giorgio de Battisti, Susanna Petternella (Studio Contemporaneo), as well as with contributions by Marilyn Arsem and Franko B.

With original music by Aldo Aliprandi, daz disley, Nat Norland and Mauro Sambo.

The film is inspired by The mirror in the mirror: A Labyrinth, a collection of surreal short stories by Michael Ende originally published in 1984.

+ Watch as Video On Demand

+ Download the Film Poetry Textbook (PDF)


+ Special Mention in the category EXPERIMENTAL FILM of the Winter Solstice 2020 Edition of PixelsGARAGE Awards of Excellence

Castello di Rocca Sinibalda, Italy

July 27 2020, 19:00

Preview on the occasion of the finissage of Endecameron 20 digital edition

DRIP, Liverpool, UK

August 19, 2020, 19:30 (GMT+1)

UK Preview screening on the occasion of SPILL YER TEA

Acciones Al Margen, Bucaramanga, CO

Saturday, August 29, 2020, 15:00 (COT)

Arts for Resilience Online Festival, Hong Kong

Centre for Community Cultural Development

September 4, 2020, 20:00 (HKT)

Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, RS

Performance Art Film Program

February 6, 2021. 20:30

CINE+PERFO, Buenos Aires, AR

December 10, 2o21, 21:00 (CET)

LATITUDES Festival, Centro Boliviano Americano, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, BO

January 19, 2022, 20:00 (BOT)

International Forum of Performance Art, Drama, GR

September 16-18, 2022

An original experiment in fusing different art forms to create a comprehensive offering which while maintaining the unique flavours of each of its ingredients, leaves behind a nouveau aftertaste that will soothe the soul. What makes the whole idea even more delightful is that it manifests at a time when the entire world was grappling with a situation that is unpredictable, insecure and gloomy.


To share the meanings of a home was a great challenge and yet, an eye-opening journey and safe space through the lockdown. The notion of Staying became an act of rooting, the notion of Home an act of loving dwelling amid falling and uncertainty.

Marcel Sparmann


–Verena Stenke (VestAndPage), July 2020

When the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns brought Europe to a halt in March 2020, I went to take refuge in my imagination because of the impossibility of producing live performance work. So came the vision of creating an imaginary place where we could encounter our artist-colleagues and continue co-creating art collectively, despite being obliged to physical distance.


I read the collection of surrealist short stories The Mirror in the Mirror by Michael Ende during the lockdown. It made me think of a film in which, as in the book, all episodes have their isolated protagonists related through a literary leitmotif. I shared my vision with the Anam Cara group; Andrea and I had already begun artistic collaboration in 2018. I invited them into this imaginary place, inviting their sharing of creative answers to the central question of what "home" means at this very moment. The question springs from our performance cycle HOME, interrogating notions of home since 2017 through collective performance operas.


I placed no intentional "deadline" (a word I dislike for its factuality and mere literal meaning or other limitations for producing the contributions, as lockdown had brought us all into emotional limbos. Some found themselves in artistic paralysis or confronted with the prosaic quest to secure a living. As we profess the potential of moments of crisis and the trust in change, we encouraged to inhabit the given situation artistically. Some had already started their projects in response to the lockdown. Others had never performed for a camera before. I invited them to use what they had at their disposal. In continuous feedback, I edited their material in line with the film's poetics. Others had created powerful diary writings that I encouraged them to record in their mother tongue to be used as voice-overs. Others created works ready to be placed in the timeline. Others bestowed sound pieces, writings, drawings, and impressions of a surrealistically emptied Venice, the city of our collective encounters in real life. It was, above all, a process of listening and letting the pieces fall into place, a place for everything and everything in its place, which we draw from our manifesto of performance-based filmmaking, "Poetics of Relations".


I needed a red thread to connect the seemingly disparate elements of the story-non-story into a non-linear narrative. Analogue and digital intersections were used to create our imaginary collective dwelling site, the "Castle of Mirroring Books". This castle is part of a larger universe springing from an old photograph album read by the White Bunny in a flowering garden in the film. The White Bunny is the tender raconteur: she opens the story through a poetic recall of the weeks of the lockdown. She bridges the artists' rooms with her cogitations on home and guides us back to reality from evanescence once the collective dream fades away.

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