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VICTORIA MACARTE

VICTORIA MACARTE is the face behind the words of We love Women. Originally from a dance background, Victoria is an artist escaping classification, defined by aesthetics over discipline, expanding her work through collaborations in music, performance, voice, video, cinema and writing. 

“It’s funny, my astral chart said I would move from dance to writing. I’ve always supported my artistic work with translation so writing seemed a natural progression, but it’s really Rosa who encouraged me to make that leap. We had collaborated on the costume for my performance project PINK NOISE where I rolled around a contemporary art fair in her giant tulle tutus we dyed in saltwater from the sea. I said something she thought was poetic once and so she invited me to write for this project, which I am completely enamored with. I’ve been awestruck every time I have interviewed all these amazing women, immersing myself in their universe for an instant to catch a glimpse of their perspectives on the world. I try to ask really simple questions that get really deep answers. So for this feature, I’ve tried to ask myself the same questions, on nature, beauty, where I’m from, where I am and where I’m going…. And I began at home.

Victoria wears orange Tucan dress. 

Though I am now based in Cadaqués, the Far East of the Iberian peninsula in the Mediterranean, I am originally from Cumbria, on the border between England and Scotland, the extreme edge of the Roman Empire, where there are more sheep than people. At school we are generally taught that Ancient Britain was a “land of savages, living degraded lives in caves or rough huts, then the Romans came and civilized them, and the march of progress has continued ever since.” But actually I think it’s probably where we started to go wrong and colonial, patriarchal thinking became installed and if we delve deeper into Britain’s ancient, prehistoric past, wandering beyond the linear thought of Roman “civilization” and its straight roads and walls, things start to get, curvy, circular and even spiral. 

Like Lucian from one of my favourite books The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen, I love to “meditate on a land laid waste, Britain deserted by the legions, the rare pavements riven by frost, Celtic magic still brooding on the wild hills and in the black depths of the forest, the rosy marbles stained with rain, and the walls growing grey.”

Above: Arzana green dress. 

Below: Gaia kaftan dress. 

On this magical mystery tour through stone and vegetation, I revisited some of my favourite places: from the lightning tree in my parent’s garden (a tree that inspired my first professional dance solo at the Place in London when I was just 19), to the crop circles around the village built on a Roman fort, to the surrounding woods and its ancient trees, and caves, to the highest point of Hadrian’s wall, or the monolith and stone circle Long Meg and her Daughters to discover “the mysterious earth-currents which thrill the clay of our bodies” as Rudyard Kipling put it. 

Local legend has it that Long Meg was a white witch, practicing a ritual dance with her coven of young witch apprentices, when a wizard priest saw what they were doing, didn’t approve and so turned them all into stone. And there they stand to this day, vibrating with feminine, telluric energy. So I took a selection of garments from Cortana’s collection and placed them on the stones to charge them with this ancient electricity. And then danced in them. 

The real significance and purpose of stone circles is a mystery shrouded in legends: horses and animals will not pass through the middle, you cannot count the stones twice and get the same number, they have been known to give electric shocks, are connected to other monuments via ley lines all across the land to form pathways for fairies. I love the importance given to fairy magic in the Celtic world. I think, as a culture, personifying the natural world and embodying it with spirituality in this way, fosters a greater respect for nature in future generations. One thing that has come out of the pandemic is we finally realise that connecting to nature is a basic necessity for the human spirit.

In a land that, before the dawn of mass agriculture, would have been covered with a blanket of trees, their roots forming a network of subterranean intelligence, stone circles are humankind’s first attempt to separate themselves from nature; before you would go to a waterfall, or mountain to worship or feel wonderment, before the need to build an architectural structure, separate from the landscape. This can be said about fire, music, dance, clothing, art, language; humans’ first attempt to separate themselves from animals. Sophisticate the ritual. But it’s still all ritual.

My FOLKCORE performance tries to capture this ancient essence beneath the fractured bucolic landscapes with a collection of British folk songs working as a series of modern spells, accompanied by the electronic music like a storm on the horizon, pulsating minimal megalithic dub beats, like the nation’s charred post-industrial heart, sang through a vocoder distorting a fairy-like voice, trying to reconcile the beauty and horror of the world for an ellipsis in time.

These folk songs were introduced to me by my father who plays in a folk band, and always had music in the house (one of my earliest memories is how he would jokingly bounce his tuning fork on my head to tune his many random instruments) but as a young girl I totally dismissed them as “old peoples’ music”. It was only when I was in my late twenties that I started to appreciate them and became obsessed with listening to Sandy Denny, Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins… (both the foundations of folk and electronic music are female!). Then I stopped listening to them and started singing them and playing them and now I feel they have become my own. But I suppose that is completely in keeping with folk music’s oral tradition of song. Music is one of the most beautiful things we can pass on to our children. 

Motherhood has opened my eyes to many things, mainly how imbalanced the way our society is structured still, but also the magic of re-discovered the world through the lens of honesty and wonderment. I try and include my kids in everything I do so they end up being a part of my creative process. Embrace the chaos! I even sometimes bring my daughter on stage… our band is called Shadow Puppets. I am also playing with the moniker of ELFA for my music projects. This was a nickname given to me by a group of friends in Barcelona but it also stands for Electronic Lullabies for Alexia/Animals/Action…

Above: Pune silk top with matching long Pushkar skirt. 

Below: Lizard devoré dress. 

Future projects include a video collaboration with the artist Laura Martinova for a spiritual pop song I wrote called Evergreen. It was inspired by the last conversation I had with a great friend and late local legend Dennis Myers about the onset of winter, (a typical British conversation about the weather) and how it doesn’t feel cold when your garden and the foliage around you is evergreen. This was ironic because as British people we have a more northern image of evergreen; firs, pine, and yew trees spring to mind, but cactuses and olive trees are evergreens too. And I suppose it’s also a metaphor for circular time and eternal undying love. 

 

Photos by @jimmygimferrer 

Text by Victoria Macarte