Ira Vicari

by Edwin Rostron

Giardini (2018) by Ira Vicari

Ira Vicari’s animated films evoke a playful spirit of experimentation and creative freedom. They combine painting, collage, drawing, text, photography, video and sound, with a tactility and directness that make her films completely distinctive. They have a spontaneity and lightness of touch which feels like following a train of thought, of memory or daydream, branching off into unexpected avenues and cycling over repeated motifs. They are made of bits and pieces, crumpled paper, flowers, felt tip pens, the sound of the street outside. These everyday elements are fleetingly transformed through Ira’s playful, creative attention. The moment passes, but the feeling remains.

I first came across Ira’s work (on the wonderful Light Cone website) while putting together this progamme for LIAF 2018, and included two of her films (Miroir Dans un Pré and Giardini (above)) in it. Since then I have remained transfixed by her work. For me Ira’s films break through many of the potential limitations of animation with seemingly effortless ease. They are largely abstract but have an intense feeling of life. There is a sense of the creative spirit playfully at work, alongside a strong feeling of being present in a ‘real’ place and time. A selection of Ira’s films, paintings and collages are currently on show at Espace Saint Jean in Melun, France until March 21st. I spoke to Ira about making animation, her working process, and her collaborations with musicians.

I Can’t Remember (2018) by Ira Vicari

EoF: Can you give a bit of biographical background about yourself?

IV: (My biography is about geography) I was born in Rome. As a child I lived in Prague, Bordeaux, Rome and Warsaw where I finished French high school and entered the Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating in Graphic Design I went back for one year to Rome and applied to Istituto Europeo di Design, but I wanted to study more so I left Rome for Paris to attend Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Décoratifs, first in the Graphic Department and then Animation. After that I worked for ten years with the producer aaa Production. Then I began to work on my own. In 2017 Light Cone accepted the distribution of my films and three years ago I moved from Paris to Melun.

EoF: Can you tell me how you began making animations? How has your animation work developed since you began?

IV: I began making animations because I felt very “unfree” in ENSAD’s Graphic Department, so I changed to Animation.

I don’t know how my animation developed, I’ve got the feeling it’s always about the same; it’s just that I realised that I’m not good in telling stories so I abandoned the narrative and the characters. I’ve been trying to erase the borders between my work as a painter and animation, but in fact I’ve never been a “real animator’.

44 Nageurs (2018) by Ira Vicari

EoF: Your recent work has a very distinctive and interesting use of materials, incorporating collage, painting, drawing, video and other materials like flowers.  I’m very interested to know more about your process. Do your films grow from paintings, collages, or do you set out to make a film from the beginning? Do you plan them out at all?

IV: No, I don’t plan my films but I usually start from the beginning. I start with a blank page and I go on, maybe in the meantime I went for a walk and I found some flowers or a little stone so I put it in; maybe suddenly a piece of paper laying in my workshop becomes very interesting to me so I put it in also. Or maybe I think about a word, a person, while I’m making the film and it will be in too.

EoF: What is it about the the animated film which attracts you as a form for your work?

IV: I feel like in the animated film “everything is possible to happen”.

Millesoleils (2017) by Ira Vicari

EoF: Your work also has a very interesting use of sound. Could you talk a bit about how you work with sound for your films, is it put together as you make the animation or after? You have also worked with the musician Guy Livingstone – how did this collaboration come about?

IV: Mostly I put the sound on animation after having made the film. But it depends. The truth is that I began to make the sound on my own because it was very hard to find a musician to work with! And because I’m not a musician myself I didn’t want to try to “make music”, so I started recording the sound in the workshop, and then when I go somewhere and I hear an interesting sound I record it ” for maybe an animation”.

I met Guy Livingston at the 100th birthday of John Cage in Paris. He made a performance in which he was recording the music by a cactus. I liked this very much ! He’s an excellent American pianist, now living in Amsterdam, and a smart performer. He liked my work too so from time to time we work together.

Marzo (2018) by Ira Vicari with music by Guy Livingstone

EoF: You currently have an exhibition of your work in Melun. Can you tell us a little bit about the show?

IV: (Espace Saint Jean is a very big space) I tried to put in the same place my paintings and animation work. So there are three walls with films running in loop and on some others there are canvases and collages. There’s also a triptych of three films about the river Seine I made with Michel Berthelot, an experimental musician I met in Melun, he composed specially for it three different tracks, he made a great work!

Painting by Ira Vicari

EoF: What are you working on now?

IV: I don’t know yet, I’m trying to clean up the house…

Porta Susa (2017) by Ira Vicari

L’autre jour (2016) by Ira Vicari

Ira Vicari’s Vimeo page

Ira Vicari’s films at Light Cone

© 2020 Edwin Rostron