Firebird 2022

Victoria Rance, Firebird, 2022, video still


Firebird a single channel 4m 25s video with sound composition

Premiered at Platform Projects Athens 2022 with Cable Depot

"For the 10th anniversary of Platforms Project in Athens, Cable Depot presents ‘Firebird’, a new work by Victoria Rance in collaboration with Cole Pemberton and performance by Sophie Pemberton. The work is a single channel 4m25s video with sound composition.

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.

In ‘Firebird’ we are confronted by a single moving image of a creature projected in a dark space against a black background, so that it appears to be a slow swimming, bioluminescent dweller of the deepest oceans, where sunlight does not penetrate. It is larger than human scale and is suspended in a dark, borderless, and palpably personal proximity to the viewer. Together with the accompanying meditative soundscape, composed by Cole Pemberton (Rance’s son, music and film maker and long time collaborator), this encounter is pulsating with Rance’s emotional appeal to her viewers. Rance’s creature is also herself and also something in all of us frightened by this evolutionary moment we are living through, with rising sea levels and burning earth. Even a momentary encounter with ‘Firebird’ leaves a lasting and poignant impression.

More time with the work can reveal a deeper, unconcealed human aspect. The creature is suddenly no longer swimming – it appears to stand, the curve of a leg is discernible, then everything again metamorphoses into a fluid aquatic beast floating off into the dark void. The fish-like creature’s movements were in fact performed and recorded on the floor by Rance’s daughter Sophie Pemberton. The body of the creature is a wearable artwork made from felt by Victoria Rance. What appears as graceful swimming in unfathomable watery depths, is in fact the gravity-bound movements of its inner inhabitant – the human inside the animal (as an obvious obverse to our own animal nature). The burning flesh of the creature changes its hues from an appearance of bioluminescence to fire-like flames (something like the aspect of the earth’s cities burning with electric light when seen at night from the window of an aeroplane), building like an alarm, like witness to destruction, then subsiding back into the glow of life in the dark. The deep places of the oceans are home to an enormous amount of strange life, which we humans impact without ever witnessing. ‘Firebird’ is like a call from the depths to us, saying here we are, we are alive, see us, feel us, we exist and we are connected, we are you."

- Iavor Lubomirov 17 May 2022

Victoria Rance, Firebird, 2022, video still