Iavor Lubimorov introduction to Firebird
at Platforms Project Athens with Cable Depot 2022
Rance has a history of creating wearable art and using performers
to activate creatures which emerge from a mythological subconscious
and speak to us through form, movement and sound of an ancient
past and of the present plight of the earth. Recalling a forgotten
primitive state, Rance’s work is a visceral reminder that we are of
nature and not separate, that we need to care for the environment
we live in by identifying ourselves as a part of it and the sheer mystery
and awe of life – our own and that of all other living creatures which
inhabit the waters, the earth and the sky.
Iavor Lubimorov introduction to In Real Life
at Cable Depot 2021
What unites the experience of either visiting locally in person, or
viewing live online from the other side of our planet, is a dreamy
and dislocated sense of the boundaries between film, objects, space,
time and location. Definitions are blurred, and scale disrupted, so
that visitors online or in real life, objects, sculptures and characters
seem to inhabit each other’s dreams (in some past, or possibly
future place, but also here and now).
The overall sense in the end is not so much a play on scale and time,
as an absence of both. A place, in the artist’s words, as big as
‘the size of our imaginations’.
Alexandra Kokoli Introductory text for Sleepy Heads
Blyth Gallery Imperial College 2019
In Thorness Sleeps, Victoria Rance creates a universe of myth
and magic in the shape of a small installation, in which a female,
earthlier manifestation of Thor, Thorness, a tiny black creature
covered in briar thorns, is guarded by a motley crew of imaginary
entities, organic matter (including a dead spider), and talismans.
Rance challenges divisions between human and animal, science
and magic, and strives to restore the land to its ‘lost creatures
& local spirits’. We will all sleep better if she succeeds.
Stephanie Moran text for Archipelago at
Walthamstow Wetlands 2018
Victoria Rance unearths mythologies of the environment:
she imagines the insect souls of mayflies, mosquitoes and midges,
and their reincarnation, and explores the magical worlds of fishermen
and herons. She researches, reimagines and dreams backstories and
histories of the landscape’s inhabitants, channeling its myth-forms
and connections to Celtic otherworlds.
Anna McNay Introduction to catalogue
The Night Horse and The Holy Baboon 2017
Much of Rance’s work deals with archetypes and the wearing of masks,
exploring what Jung describes as the compromise between what one
likes to be and how one likes to appear – the persona as it stands
in contrast to the personality. Her cast of recurring characters,
besides Loki and his friends, includes Medusa, Perseus, Nuit (the
goddess of the sky), and, most recently, the Night Horse and the
Holy Baboon. Her Sculptures to Wear include caterpillars, a worm,
and wasp spiders – a striking variety of arachnid that disguises itself
as a more harmful species to evade a common predator.
This theme of (self-)protection and vulnerability permeates Rance’s
practice, and if one archetype can be said to lie at the heart of her
work, it is the Mother, whose attributes Jung describes as ‘maternal
solicitude and sympathy; the magic authority of the female; the
wisdom and spiritual exaltation that transcend reason’. On the
negative side, the Mother may connote: ‘anything secret, hidden,
dark; the abyss, the world of the dead, anything that devours,
seduces, and poisons, that is terrifying and inescapable like fate’.
Together he formulates the ambivalence of these attributes as
‘the loving and terrible mother’.[i]
For Rance, there is always this ambivalence between good and
bad, violence and serenity, with her characters often coming in
opposing pairs. While her work frequently draws on the darkness
that lies beneath, she seeks not to shock, but to mend or to help.
Space for a Girl (2011), for example, was made as a safe space for
her niece, while SOS (2013) was made as a form of psychological
armour with her own daughter in mind.
Penny Hancock interviews Victoria Rance
after her recent exhibition in The Learned Pig
an online magazine about art, thinking,
nature and writing edited by Tom Jeffreys.
PH: Mythical creatures often feature in your work, as well
as real animals. I am thinking of Loki, or The Night Horse
and the Holy Baboon, in your recent exhibition. Would
you say there are some archetypes that speak to all of us,
and what do you believe these represent for us?
VR: I think there are some very powerful archetypes that we
carry within us. Horses seem to still be so important to humans.
And even creatures we’ve never come across speak to us.
Wolves for example. I grew up in the countryside by woods
and was frightened of wolves and thought I heard them at
night, even though I knew there weren’t any there. Fear is primal,
like fear of snakes. As we mentioned earlier, I am just now
researching hyenas and how they have been a carrier of certain
human qualities we want to disown or make “other”.Presence and Absence in Contemporary Sculpture
From Penny Hancock reviews Victoria Rance:
The Night Horse and The Holy Baboon
Sculptures, Drawings, Photographs and Animations
2007-2017 at The Cello Factory 23-30 October 2017
on a-n.co.uk reviews
The silhouettes of two giant figures, long eared, long armed
—human? —animal? —mythical? —straddle the entrance to
the gallery. They appear to have their backs to us, guarding
what lies ahead. Or are they facing us, offering us protection,
or warning, as we enter? Between the figures, a giant,
golden-haired baboon can be seen against the light. Beside it
is a wooden horse, reminiscent of a nursery toy, but enlarged
out of all proportion. It is one of the most striking entrances
to an exhibition I’ve ever seen.
Inside the baboon seems menacing, sinister, towering over the
horse. The horse, made simply of wood with its stylized, half-
closed eyes, and its naïve contours, appears vulnerable, its
head down, demurely facing the baboon. But as you approach
The Night Horse and The Holy Baboon your perceptions are
subverted. It’s the horse that has a sinister air about it, the
baboon a protective one. Can the simplicity of the horse figure
be trusted? Can the dominating presence of the golden baboon
perhaps be interpreted as comforting, a protective giant, watching
From Thinking is Making
Black Dog Publishing 2013 Edited by Michael Taylor
Excerpt from text by Fiona MacDonald
Themes of shielding and protecting take centre stage in the work of Victoria Rance, and most of this refers directly to the human form. Her metal and fabric masks, helmets and armour, designed to protect from exposure to both elemental forces as well as other people are intended to be worn. The performers with whom she collaborates are significantly more than just models, and are often family members. It is often these performers' own needs, (as imagined by or explained to Rance), that trigger the work.
On her studio wall are photographs of a spider, a beetle and a caterpillar, each one a species that disguises itself as another in order to avoid attack - impersonating a poisonous species, whilst lacking their own protective weaponry. Whole-body enclosures one can wriggle into take up the bright warning patterns of small beasts to act as a different kind of armour, protecting the vulnerable space of the psyche from the cruel or indifferent realities of life by allowing the wearer to become other than themselves.
Rance can achieve an impressive interweaving of the mystical and the commonplace, in both conception and fabrication. Her ideas often arise from interaction with children, where the barriers between real and imagined are less rigid. Many of her methods: metalwork, stitching weaving have their own counterpoint in the ancient and mythical world. In the pieces where a particular method and form coalesce, the symbiosis resonates throughout the work.
Matthew Goodsmith interviews Victoria Rance for
Occupy My Time Gallery's Tipping the Line
March 2014 see The WeddingFrom Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper
(translated from the German)
6 September 2013
by Tom Billman
Of Monsters and Demons BBK Kunstquartier
It’s about demons, those ugly little monsters that lurk within us
and sometimes forcefully push out to dominate our everyday lives:
“The Sleep of Reason” is the title of an exhibition of works by Sylvia Lüdtke and Victoria Rance, which opens this evening at BBK
in the art district.
It all began with Francisco de Goya, "The Sleep of Reason
Produces Monsters" (1799) is an etching by the Spanish artist,
in which a man falls exhausted on a table in the bedroom,
meanwhile, bats, owls and sphinxes band together
looming over him. Osnabrück artist Sylvia Lüdtke and her
colleague from London Victoria Rance took this impressive
work as a starting point for their artistic engagement
with reason and what happens beyond Rationality.
For one year they worked together on paintings,
sculptures and objects specifically for this exhibition.
They emailed ideas and suggestions, and discussed via
Skype to realise the project. Now the Kunst-Kabinett
of myths and dreams, and the nature of the subconscious
in everyday life is ready for the public. Rance sat down
to analyze figures from Norse mythology, and
with the help of psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud
and CG Jung, turned the archetypes into sculpture-like
costumes to wear.
Published in Habertürk (Turkish Daily Newspaper) 10 June 2012
1- How did you start your work with Medusa?
I started working on the theme of Medusa after visiting the Byzan-
tine Cisterns in Istanbul. In 2008-9 I made work about Arachne (who
was turned into a spider by the envious Minerva) and back in 1996
a sculpture about Danae who was the mother of Perseus, so I had
already an interest in mythology, transformation and the human
characteristics which the stories of the gods portray. When I
saw the Medusa I was shocked by the physical presence of the
huge stone head upside-down in the water, and by the massive
(phallic) column on her head. Here she lies beneath the very
centre of old Istanbul, and it felt symbolic to me of a civilisation
being founded on the suppression of female power. I wanted to
reanimate her. Work about Perseus and his weapons and powers
came later. I wanted a contrast between the young boy and the
older woman, and also the unarmed woman and the boy with so
much help and so many weapons from the gods.
2- What is important in your work?
I have different interests. The symbolic and the story carried in
the work matters very much, I am interested in psychological
subjects which have a meaning now, but often have a long
history. This is why my work often refers back to the past,
past artworks, buildings, artefacts. I often visit museums and
am interested in history, ethnology and archaeology. I also
spend a great deal of time making things by hand, again with
reference to traditional crafts which I feel matter very much.
Working by hand is something so human, and is so satisfying.
I often fight with myself about using the computer, and
do it unwillingly. I am interested in feminism, which connects
to both the subjects and the use of crafts and making. I care
very much about how women are treated and worry sometimes
that our daughters may lose the gains in freedom and equality
we have now and which our mothers and grandmothers fought for.
3- Generally your work is black and white. Why black and white?
Does that have any meaning?
I like the immediate power of black and white. I find it seductive
and rich. It gives me a thrill which I can't explain. I do use colour
in my sculpture, and use shiny reflective surfaces, but for my animations and recent images I feel happier with the
excitement of black and white.
4- What is you thinking about power and politics of the body?
Also what do you think about beauty?
For me Medusa represents a powerful image for women. As I said"In common with many of Rance's recent
above, feminism matters to me very much. I want women to be
able to have control over their own bodies and not feel pressurised
to be slim or beautiful, or to hide themselves or to wear
particular clothes. I respect each woman's right to be able to make
their own choices, and sometimes they have to angrily protect that
right. As for beauty in art, I do want my work to have a strong
aesthetic quality, some artworks I make are shocking or frightening,
some are beautiful. In my animations I wanted Medusa to
remain powerful, so I left the end of the Medusa and
Perseus animation ambiguous.
He had so much help from the gods to kill her; all she had was
her angry stare! So I made her huge and powerful. A lot of
my work deals with protection of the vulnerable and fragile,
and how hard it is for sensitive people to exist in a world where
you often have to be hard and cynical and mistrustful of others.
How do we empower ourselves or look after the vulnerable?
My ‘sculpture to wear’ series deals with ways to imagine this.
I make sculptures like costumes and ask people to wear them and
be photographed in them, I want to capture a vulnerability in those
photographs and the animations which follow.
Space for a Woman: Walking through the city
September 11-16, 2011
The purpose of Victoria Rance’s research trip was to subjectively
experience personal and shared spaces in the city, in particular
she searched for ambivalence about spaces for women.
She wanted to experience how they are negotiated and
demarcated in comparison to those in London. Her quest began
at the Harem in Topkapi Palace, a historical designated space
for women that has played an important role in the western
imagination. She found the harem quieter, cooler, and more
pleasant than the rest of the palace filled with noisy tourists.
Similarly, in the mosques, the areas designed for women were
sheltered from the noisy hustle and bustle of everyday life. In
the Eminönü mosque, she witnessed children playing, chasing,
and learning to walk in the shared prayer space. She learned
that the demarcation of spaces is more complex than a westerner
see more 5533 website
Patrick Semple, Review of Bounty APT Gallery Deptford 2007
works there is here a sense of both
shelter and imprisonment.
A wall of steel flowers forms a shield like a
gauntlet. Their petals face inward allowing, no
doubt, the occupant an idea of the pastoral. But
if there is delicacy and decoration Space for a
Woman is also rough, threatening and not
a little medieval. It wraps its occupant into
a corner, forces them to stand and acts like a cage.
Nonetheless there is
beauty. And the piece is
a shelter; it's just difficult.
It may be small but
it is on a human scale.
And the occupant
can see out."
Review by Gavin Street of The Economist Plaza londonart.co.uk 2001
"Rance's steel sculpture plays on tensions
between old and new.
Its simple geometric form is essentially modernist, yet strongly evokes a much earlier age with a sense of spirituality that is at
odds with its modern environment.
Charles Pickstone excerpt from
AICA Memorial Award for Art Critics with this article, link:
Image Journal USA 2005 (ISSN 1087-3503)
"Rance's particular talent to evoke into