Anatomy Is Destiny

Anatomy is Destiny

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 – 6:00 p.m.

On the evening of February 15, 2012, the World Chess Hall of Fame presented Liliya Lifánova’s performance art piece Anatomy is Destiny at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, marking the closing of the World Chess Hall of Fame’s inaugural exhibitions OUT OF THE BOX: Artists Play Chess and Chess Masterpieces: Highlights from the Dr. George and Vivian Dean Collection. In the performance, 32 dancers reenacted an imaginary chess match between the artist and chess master Marcel Duchamp and his female alter ego Rrose Sélavy.

The title Anatomy is Destiny, a direct reference to the psycho-theory of Sigmund Freud, invokes the highly controversial theories that form the foundation of the psychosexual development of young boys and girls known as the Oedipus complex. This work consists of two components: the installation of garments called The Wardrobe: Game in Waiting and the full-scale performance in which performers don the garments and execute the moves of an imaginary chess match between Marcel Duchamp and his infamous female alter ego Rrose Sélavy that was envisioned by the artist Arman in 1972. Inspired by a diverse array of historical military fashions and constructed of linen backed with cotton, each garment in the wardrobe was designed by Lifánova to restrict the movement of the performer in such a way that approximates the respective movements of that piece on the game board.


 Anatomy is Destiny, Part 1, 21:52


 Anatomy is Destiny, Part 2, 10:04


Q & A, Bradley Bailey and Liliya Lifánova


Performers Enter


Kings, Matthew Lane and Karen Jones, before the Match


Knights, Daniel Beerman and Robbie Haupt, 5. N-K5/N-KB3


King, Rook, and Bishop on the Black side


View from the Balcony at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis


Kings, Matthew Lane and Karen Jones, 40. KxP/K-Q3


Liliya Lifánova, artist

An American born in Kyrgyzstan, Lifánova’s matrix of influence developed out of the ongoing political and socio-economic reforms of the former Soviet nation of her birth, as well as the traditional nomadic lifestyle and customs of the Kyrgyz Land. In 2010, Lifánova received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a nominee for the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Art Prize. In 2011, Lifánova was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to Russia and an artist residency in Spain, where she worked on a video project at the Center for Research and Creativity Casamarlés (CeRCCa) in Llorenç del Penédes and at La Fragua, Cordoba exploring transience and nomadism.

Davy Bisaro, choreographer

Bisaro spent her childhood in rural British Columbia, Canada. She began dancing as an adult living in Oxford, England. Bisaro earned her degree in dance at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts in Vancouver. She has recently relocated to Toronto, Ontario, after living and working in Chicago for two years. In Chicago, she choreographed and performed in diverse spaces, creating work for both trained and untrained movers. Bisaro has also collaborated with artists in a number of different mediums, including sculpture, textile, video, and new media.




  • King: Karen Jones
  • Queen: Jimmy Powell
  • Bishops: Audrey Simes, John Wrenn Voigt
  • Knights: Daniel Beerman, Joanna Hoge
  • Rooks: Ghislaine Angieri, Anna Paszkiewics
  • Pawns: Zachary Thomas Mason, Jai Shah, Cynthia Wolters, Malaika Tolford, Jennifer DeSuza, Benny Brewton III, Aurora Bihler, David Friedman


  • King: Matthew Lane
  • Queen: Shelby Esmaé Davis
  • Bishops: Matthew Larrabee, Alyssa Ward
  • Knights: Selene Kye Davis, Robbie Haupt
  • Rooks: Laura Shields, A. Sparrow Crain
  • Pawns: Tristan Walker, Michael Pagano, Jennifer Patton, Eric Barr, Elisa Thomas, Lyndsey G. Caldwell, Andrea Peoples, Mary McNulty

Marcel Duchamp vs. Rrose Sélavy

New York, 1972


1. P-K4/P-K4

2. P-KB4/PxP

3. N-KB3/P-KN4

4. P-KR4/P-N5

5. N-K5/N-KB3

6. P-Q4/P-Q3

7. N-Q3/NxP

8. BxP/B-N2

9. N-B3/NxN

10. PxN/P-QB4

11. B-K2/PxP

12. O-O/N-B3!

13. BxNP/O-O

14. BxB/RxB

15. Q-N4/P-B4

16. Q-N3/PxP

17. QR-K1/K-R1

18. K-R1/R-KN1

19. BxP/B-B1

20. B-K5ch/NxB

21. QxNch/R-N2

22. RxP/QxPch

23. K-N1/Q-KN5

24. R-B2/B-K2

25. R-K4/Q-N4

26. QxQ/BxQ

27. N-K5/K-N1

28. N-QB4/P-N3

29. RB2-K2/RN2-QB2

30. R-K8ch/RxR

31. RxRch/K-B2

32. R-QB8!/RxR

33. N-Q6ch/K-K3

34. NxR/B-K6ch

35. K-B1/KRP-R4

36. K-K2/B-Q5

37. K-Q3/K-K4

38. N-K7/K-K3

39. KxB/KxN

40. KxP/K-Q3

Sound Design by Sebastian Alvarez Video courtesy of Spectrum Studios Photos by S. Carmody Photography See the full set of photos on the WCHOF Flickr page


Casting Call: Anatomy is Destiny

Anatomy is Destiny Invite

Anatomy is Destiny Program

Anatomy is Destiny Program Insert