Ana Victoria aka Vica Pacheco was born in Oaxaca, southern Mexico in 1993. She lives and works in Brussels. She studied art at La Esmeralda in México City before graduating from Villa Arson in 2017. Her artistic work is above all eclectic and energetic; regardless of her sources of inspiration and her engagement with mythological crossbreeding and syncretism, she likes to arrange the most heterogeneous or hazardous elements among them to produce sound performances and installations. She has a practice rooted in music and sound art, but also a plastic practice going stretching from ceramics to 3D animation.
You are from Oaxaca and started your creative journey there. You were singing, playing the guitar, but also printmaking and drawing. Could you talk about this period of your creative journey?
Well, I have the impression that I’ve always been involved in artistic activities. I wanted to be a painter when I was a child! I was inspired by many incredible plastic artists from Oaxaca, where popular arts play an essential role in society: music and crafts are part of daily life and so I embodied this in a natural way, I think. Art workshops are also really alive and accessible there so it’s easy to try out many disciplines, which is what I did during the whole of my life in Oax, the list is long! And I think this multi-artistic geography is my biggest influence.
You then entered art school in Mexico City, but also started to experiment with sound. What led you from more traditional engagement with music to sonic experimentation?
Mexico City is the most eclectic place I know in the world. I was coming from a traditional small city when I arrived in the « concrete jungle » at 18 years old. I was amazed by the rhythm of life in the streets, the noises, the music and the sonic interactions of various sources. Then I started to go to music festivals and I discovered what « experimental music » was. At the same time, I was starting my artistic education at La Esmeralda, which brought new perspectives on my way of seeing life through art, independently of what form it could take. So I started experimenting on my own and also with some friends, discovering what a piezo and a looper were and trying to express things with those new tools!
Visual and sonic fields have been intertwined in your work ever since. Can you talk about the interplay between the visual and the aural in your work?
I think it has always been natural for me to invoke different media in my work. I embrace the idea of transforming energy into narratives that touch different senses. Even though I feel connected to sound and to listening, I enjoy producing images, shapes and textures as an extension of those universes that sound can dictate to me, or the inverse. It is hard for me at this point to separate one from the other, I mean my visual/plastic and sonic universes; the more hybrid and chimeric it manages to be, the more familiar it is to me.
Mythology and the organic world are some of the themes that reappear in your work. How do you approach mythologies and the organic specifically?
I grew up listening to stories in which non-human entities were the principal actors and human life was affected by them in multiple ways. Animals, plants and other entities always have personalities and individuality and they play important roles in Mexican popular story-telling. The oral tradition that comes from Mesoamerican times has always interested me as I find in those myths and beliefs a way of reconciling with Nature through care and understanding, a non-pyramidal way. I think that like many Mexican artists, I feel concerned about reconnecting with my pre-colonial origins in a subjective way. So I extrapolate those stories and influences into soundscapes, into clay artefacts, into performances and audiovisual outputs; it’s my way to express my point of view, I guess.
One of your latest projects is a “Bionic Mangrove” that you presented at Rewire festival recently. Can you talk about it?
It is a long-term project that has already been cooking in my imagination for a few years.
I started experimental plastic/sonic research into the Mesoamerican « whistling vessel » few years ago, reproducing the hydraulic-flute system of this magical instrument but using new technologies such as 3D modelling and CNC milling techniques. Since a residency at EKWC in 2021, I’ve been making a series of improvised sound performances with my creatures called « Animacy or a breath manifest ».
Then I had the chance to meet the artist and curator Matteo Marangoni at one of my shows, who suggested that I did a residency at iii (Instrument inventors initiative) in The Hague, in order to participate in an exhibition called Proximity Music: Visceral Acts, as part of the Rewire festival programme for this year.
I realised it was the right moment to make two new branches of Animacy: one was the Bionic Mangrove/Mitote, a kinetic sculpture that allows 10 whistling creatures to produce their sound thanks to electronic components and a pulley system. The idea of the tree came to me after reading an archaeological paper about the whistling vessels, in which there was an account of how in Mesoamerican times, people would carry water to their work in the fields in these vessels, and when the heat of the day was rising, they tied them to the trees, and the sound that they produced when they were swinging in the air allowed them to take a nap. This image inspired me a lot.
On the other hand, I proposed the performance OLLIN, which consists of a dance/improvisation performance for three dancers, where the movement of their bodies allows the instrument that they are holding/caring for to make a sound. I amplify those sounds with wireless mics and mix everything to create a soundscape, a conversation between the bodies of the dancers and the clay bodies of these creatures: movement is the epicentre.
We had 12 performances during the festival, and it was a fantastic new experience that we hope to reproduce again and again!
What has inspired you lately?
Many artists and musicians I met during my residency at iii inspired me a lot! But in particular Naomi Rincón Gallardo, a Mexican artist who has a powerful and beautiful way to approach our postcolonial reality and violent necro-political Mexican context through feminist/queer experimental films. She is truly a genius; she also has this connection with the Mesoamerican world and interaction with non-human entities that is pertinent and poetic.
I learned a lot from her, even if she doesn’t know it.
You are doing a residency as part of SHAPE+ with artists commissioned by Intonal/Inkonst. Can you talk about it?
Yes, I’m currently working in Malmö at the Inter Arts Center, which is just next to Inkonst, the venue that organises the Intonal festival and that proposed me for the Shape+ program. I am really delighted with them. They gave me carte blanche to produce a project for Intonal in collaboration with two local artists. I loved the idea and I proposed ITA, which is an animation film, and I asked if it was possible to collaborate with women musicians, specifically a trombone player and a percussionist, and I have the good fortune now to be creating the music for ITA alongside Maria Bertel and Ying-Hsueh Chen. I always wanted to do a live show with my animations projected with music playing, inspired by the works of Oskar Fischinger. So it’s meant months of creative work on my computer. I built a kind of network in constant movement, evoking organicity. The elements of this film, which I like to think of as characters, are inspired by nature’s shapes.
Interview by Lucia Udvardyova