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victoria varth

may 17, 2020
madrid, spain


On the 65th day of Spain’s state of emergency coronavirus lockdown, Ava interviewed Victoria over Skype. Ava was in her apartment in Usera, and Victoria was at her family’s house in Torrejón de Ardoz. The original Spanglish interview is transcribed here, along with English translations (✽). The interview is available in Spanish here. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

All photographs on this page were made by Victoria.

Ava: Are you a cat or a dog?

Victoria: A cat. I am a cat, but I would like to be a dog sometimes.

Ava: Why?

Victoria: I think I take some things too seriously. Also, I am too independent sometimes. But I would like to feel more connected to people as dogs do. Like, more innocent, or…

Ava: Or more trusting?

Victoria: More trusting, yeah.

Ava: Cats aren’t very trusting of people. Yeah, I feel like that’s partially why I’m a cat, too.

Victoria: I want to be a mix.

Ava: A cat-dog?

Victoria: Yeah. Like those cartoons, have you seen those?

Ava: Yeah, yeah! I watched those all the time when I was younger. Did you watch those when you were younger?

Victoria: Sí!

Ava: God, there’s a dog barking so loudly right now, and it’s driving me crazy, and this is why sometimes I don’t like dogs.

Victoria: Too noisy sometimes.

Ava: This is a bonus question: tell me what animal you really really are.

Victoria: I think I am a bat.

Ava: Tell me about being a bat.

Victoria: It’s the only mammal that can fly. Also, I like the mix between sound and visual images. Like, they can see images through sound, and sounds as images. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Ava: Like, echolocation? I didn’t know that it was a visual thing.

Victoria: Yeah.

Ava: I like thinking about it like that. I mean, I can see how that relates to who you are.

Victoria: And they are so cute.

Ava: They are so cute! Ok, the next question: describe your creative practice as a party.

Victoria: I think it would be like those 80s parties, with red lights and post-punk or synth wave music.

Ava: Where does this happen? Like, in a club, or in someone’s basement, or in someone’s living room? Or in a bar, or something?

Victoria: I don’t know, anywhere. Any dark place.

Ava: Any dark place with red lights. Nice. And who is there? Who is at your party?

Victoria: People dressed in random outfits, like dressed in leather with tacky shirts and random haircuts. I don’t know, like, goth people. Weirdos. But friendly people. That spirit from the 90s raves. Old raver spirit, with respect for each other.

Ava: Are all of these people friends of yours, or are some of them strangers?

Victoria: Everyone is invited.

Ava: Everyone is invited, but there’s a communal feel?

Victoria: Yeah, yeah. And everyone is dancing.

Ava: Ok, that’s what I was going to ask.

Victoria: I don’t want anyone who is not dancing. Like, if you are not dancing—

Ava: You’re not allowed in?

Victoria: Maybe there could be another place for those people.

Ava: What food and drinks are being served at this party? Is there a snack table? Una mesa de picas?

Victoria: No sé. Sí, en España lo llamamos ‘guateque’. Solía llamarse así a las fiestas de los 80 con música y comida y bebida. Todo self-service.
(✽ I don’t know. Yeah, in Spain we call it guateque. Parties in the 80s used to be called that, with music and food and drinks. All self-service.)

Ava: So, everyone brings their own—

Victoria: Yes.

Ava: I love your party. I feel like the next question is like a good follow-up. Will you talk about the different media or mediums you work in, and do you feel that they are connected to each other? Or not?

Victoria: I think of disciplines as languages. You can speak more than one language. Photography is one of the languages that comes to me naturally, and I mix it with other ones, like music and video, and sometimes design. But I see design more as like, a tool—I don’t know how to say that in English—to put all the languages—

Ava: Design is what ties everything together?

Victoria: I use it for do-it-yourself projects like self-publishing or making photobooks or something. With photography, I am always framing moments, or framing what I see. I get attached to moments and want to collect them. Then I can travel in time—I can make my own timeline.

Ava: Do you use photography as a way to travel to the past, to revisit past moments?

Victoria: Yeah. Memories. And with music—I think music and photography has the same feeling, or uses the same emotional part of the brain. It’s the same as what I told you about bats—like, you can listen to an image.

Ava: Do you think that you have synesthesia? Listening to music is a visual experience?

Victoria: Yeah, all the time. And I think music and photography has the same nostalgic feeling about the past, or life in general.

Ava: And then design is like—

Victoria: Design for me is just a tool.

Ava: It’s how you present your work?

Victoria: Claro. Es como que necesito esa herramienta para presentar bien mi trabajo. Pero realmente no lo veo como una forma de expresarme.
(✽ Yeah. It’s like, I need this tool in order to present my work well. But really I don’t see it as a form of self-expression.)

Ava: Yeah. Although, your design is very much you. It is some reflection of you.

Victoria: Sí. Es como que… no sé cómo expresarlo. Pero bueno, también es una forma de ganarme la vida, de trabajar, porque es mi trabajo. Entonces necesito el diseño para ganar dinero y así seguir produciendo obra. Y luego, vídeo… creo que me gustaría más hacer vídeo. Más adelante. O sea, me gustaría comprar una cámara de video y grabar mis viajes y lo que sea.
(✽ Yes. It’s like... I don’t know how to explain it. Also it’s how I make money, because it’s my job. So I need design in order to make money and so I can continue making work. And then video... I think that I would like to make more videos. Later on. I mean, I would like to buy a video camera and record my travels and whatever.)

Ava: Well, I think that making music videos makes so much sense as an extension of your work. If listening to music is a visual experience for you, then music videos are such an obvious thing to play with.

Victoria: Yeah. But I think—o sea, en un vídeo, es como que todo es significado ya te lo dan. No está muy abierto a otras interpretaciones. Es decir que ya lo estás viendo y como que eso ya—o sea, no te da pie a montar tu propia historia. Y la fotografía es más abierta.
(✽ I mean, in a video, it’s like all of the meanings are already given to you. It’s not very open to other interpretations. That is to say, you’re already seeing it and it’s already—I mean, it’s not good for putting your own story together. Photography is more open.)

Ava: Yeah, when you’re listening to music at the same time, that defines what you’re seeing more. But when you’re talking about wanting to make more videos, are you talking about not music videos, too?

Victoria: I want to do music videos but I would also like to record my everyday life. But without pretension.

Ava: Yeah. Like, not to become a YouTuber. Or maybe to become a YouTuber. Why not become a YouTuber in this day and age?

Victoria: Maybe it’s the future.

Ava: I know! I wanna be a YouTuber… sometimes. What were we talking about the other day? Self-promotion?

Victoria: Yeah. I think it’s difficult to promote yourself, to see yourself as another person.

Ava: Yeah, you have to detach from yourself to a certain extent in order to put yourself out there. I feel like making work anyway, or being an artist—you have to detach from your work at some point anyway. Once you put it into the world, you lose control over it, more or less.

Victoria: Yeah, for example, if you do a photobook, there is a moment of editing when you have to choose what photograph is the best to express one idea. You have to detach.

Ava: Yeah, it’s similar to editing writing. It’s like, in your first drafts, there are always a few sentences or paragraphs that you just love, but then when you get to the end and you’re really editing it and trying to bring the story together, you have to delete some of those things that you love. I’m not good at doing that.

Victoria: No, yo tampoco. No. Pero yo creo que hay que aprender a hacerlo. Es cuestión de práctica.
(✽ No, me neither. No. But I think that you have to learn to do it. It’s a question of practice.)

Ava: Yeah. Poco a poco. Now, tell me about your relationship to the color blue. What is blue to you?

Victoria: The first photographs that I took, my early photographs, were in shades of blue. For no reason. But I dream in blue, and I started to think that I am a blue person.

Ava: Like, you think of yourself as the color blue?

Victoria: Sí. También mis amigos me decían que mis fotografías eran como sacados de Tumblr—those kinds of pictures that are so dreamy and sad.
(✽ Yeah. Also my friends have told me that my photographs are like, taken from Tumblr—)

Ava: When you are taking photographs now, these days, and when you think about the photographs that you want to take, is blue still a part of your vision, or are you trying to move beyond blue?

Victoria: I have one project all in blue, an ongoing project. So that way, I can choose some photographs in blue and put them in that project and continue taking photographs with blue. I don’t know. I think blue has a certain kind of sadness or darkness in itself, and it’s also one of my states, like moods. It is a mood. Hopefully one day I stop feeling blue. Pero no creo que eso pase.
(✽ But I don’t think this will happen.)

Ava: No… I mean, you can never not ever be blue. Well, I guess some people say that they never feel blue, or something. I don’t know. But then I’m interested—maybe I won’t call it an obsession, but you have a thing with red lights. What are your thoughts about red lights? What does that mean for you? Why do you like the red lights?

Victoria: I like the aesthetic of red lights, and it’s also about passion. I think I am a passionate person. No sé, me gusta combinar el rojo y el azul porque creo que son mis dos estados mentales, y contrastan.
(✽ I don’t know, I like combining red and blue because I believe those are my two mental states, and they contrast.)

Ava: Red for you is passion and blue is some form of sadness, like—

Victoria: Yeah, like nostalgia.

Ava: What is home to you? How do you define home?

Victoria: I think of home as a feeling. Like, a feeling that could be related to a person or to a place or to a way of life, or certain moment, or something. So for me, home is feeling like myself, completely. I think a feeling of home for me is being with my friends, or my family, and being comfortable in one place.

Ava: You’ve lived in Madrid all of your life?

Victoria: No. También viví en Londres.
(✽ I’ve also lived in London.)

Ava: How long were you in London?

Victoria: Eight months.

Ava: Did London ever feel like home when you were there?

Victoria: Yes. I have a special relationship with that place. In London, I felt more myself. Like, more free. Home can be a tricky feeling. You can easily attach to that feeling of home, but at the same time, I feel like sometimes it’s good for me to run away from my home or my place, like, from Madrid.

Ava: I feel like it’s interesting for you because I know that you love Madrid—is that fair to say, that you love Madrid?

Victoria: Sí.

Ava: But you also want to leave. Not only Madrid, but Spain. What is giving you that feeling of needing to go somewhere else, even if it’s temporary?

Victoria: My nature is more about discovering new places or new experiences by myself, to keep learning, or to keep discovering new places. And coming back home whenever I want.

Ava: Have your feelings about home changed during quarantine?

Victoria: Sí, sentirte bien con mi mismo. También es un poco difícil cuando te obligan a estar en tu casa. También siento que—the feeling of home is a privilege, as well. Like, not everyone feels at home with their families. I think it makes me value my home and realize that I am lucky to have a home.
(✽ Yes, feeling good about myself. Also it’s a little difficult when you’re obligated to be at home. Also I feel that—)

Ava: Is there one object or thing that you think about when you think about home, something that symbolizes home for you? Or that reminds you most of home?

Victoria: I think it's water. De pequeña pasaba muchos veranos en mi pueblo y allí tengo piscina. Solía nadar bastante yo sola en la piscina. Por eso he desarrollado un sentimiento de hogar con el agua. A veces cuando me estoy duchando lleno la bañera con un poco de agua y me sumerjo y me quedo así, con la cabeza bajo el agua. Eso me hace sentirme bien.
(✽ When I was little, I spent many summers in my pueblo and I have a pool there. I used to swim by myself in the pool so much. Because of this, I’ve developed a feeling of home in water. Sometimes when I’m showering, I fill the bathtub with a little water and submerge myself and stay there, with my head underwater. This makes me feel good.)

Ava: The last question: what are you excited about?!

Victoria: I'm excited about developing my film from before quarantine.

Ava: Yeah, me too.

Victoria: Sí. And to travel again. As soon as possible.

Ava: To go to the ocean?

Victoria: Yeah. And taking pictures in nature, feeling more connected to nature than before. Creo que sí. Y también he estado investigando mucho sobre fotografía analógica. Normalmente trabajo con fotografía digital pero ahora quiero investigar la analógica.
(✽ I think so. And also I’ve been researching a lot about analog photography. Normally I work with digital photography, but now I want to investigate analog.)