This is a really good song – Interview with Valentine Gallardo
agosto 18, 2015
Valentine Gallardo shares her views about dreaming.
(Interview by Roger Omar. August 2015)
R: Would it make a big difference in your social life if every morning you call the people you dreamed of?
V: I tend to dream mostly about people I see on a regular basis. It depends if I’d have to tell them about the dream or if I’d just call them to chat. On occasions I tell people I dreamt about them and I’m afraid to come off as a creep, because dreams are so meaningful that most of the time you can’t just go ‘hey, you died in my dream last night’ or something. Sometimes there are people I haven’t seen in a long time that appear in a dream and I realize I miss them and then I do write or call them.
-How different is the Valentine in dreams from the Valentine in actual life?
Just the same person but with more interesting abilities like bouncing off the ground like there’s no gravity. Rarely, I’m a completely different character, like an old criminal in medieval times, or maybe I’m nobody or nothing.
-Would it be a luck or more like a tragedy if any random day you stay in the dream with no chance to wake up?
It depends if I was made aware of it, or not. Maybe if I wasn’t aware that I was dreaming, I’d just go on living like this forever without noticing that anything strange has happened, so it would be neither luck or tragedy. If somebody told me I was asleep and never to wake up again I would probably be horrified.
Photo by © Jana Vasiljević.
-When did you start registering your dreams? Do you mostly write or draw them?
I don’t know when I started to write them! Probably in a diary, maybe when I was a teenager. One of my first projects when I started to study in art school in Brussels was to make small dream comics, so it’s something that’s been there since a while. It came rather naturally. The more you write about it the more you think about it and then the more you remember as well. Then you’re only a step away from lucid dreaming, which is really cool.
-Has the habit of drawing your dreams revealed you anything significant about yourself?
Definitely, many things. I think it’s healthy to pay attention to your dreams, it helps to know yourself better. You might think that a problem is solved but then you dream about it and you know that you’ve been lying to yourself. I think everybody should scrutinize their dreams. It would probably get rid of a lot of frustration. Then writing is really important for that as well.
Photo by © Jana Vasiljević.
-Is there anything (material, sound, feeling, encounter) during the day that reminds you or makes you aware of a recent dream?
That’s often how I remember a dream that otherwise vanished from my mind. Mostly it’s something somebody says, or the sight of a person. Rarely with sound though. Dreams where sound and/or colour are vivid are some of my favourite. It happens that a melody is created in my dream and I wake up thinking ‘this is a really good song’ only to realize a bit later that it was quite silly.
-Do you have any special look at reality after registering so many of your dreams?
Yes definitely! I think that it taught me that things are not always what they seem and you shouldn’t take your impression of reality as a solid, unmovable thing. There are many different ways to view the world and I find that general consensus is to be distrusted.
-Has comic been a good medium to tell your dreams?
My opinion is that comics are the PERFECT medium to draw dreams. Because they work in the same way, I think. They are both succession of images with some gaps in between and then some meaning is created in between the fragments. That’s how I remember dreams anyway, in fragments. I can’t imagine a better way to translate dreams than comics. But then again, it’s just a translation. I really wish that there was a dream recorder of some kind, I think many people have tried and fail to make such a device.
-Besides drawing comics of your dreams, have you given them any other practical use or physical form?
I talk about them a lot, and I’m grateful that I know people that also think dreaming is interesting, but I haven’t done anything else with the dreams than writing and drawing.
-What is your own hypothesis about dreaming?
It’s a constant source of wonder for me. I think people dream to organize their thoughts and impressions or let out their frustrations, but I have no idea where such fantastical stories come from. I guess dreaming is like a trance or a moment of abandon and that’s where the interesting ideas usually appear. I have much less imagination when I’m fully awake.
About Valentine’s “Tomorrow I´ll be gone” comic book (Published in August 2013 by TMH).
-How did “Tomorrow I´ll be gone” originate? Does it reflect a specific time period of your dreams? Is it part dream-inspired and part invention?
It does reflect a specific time period of my life, when I was going through a lot of personal changes. Of course it is part invention as well, or at least I ‘sewed’ together parts of dreams and memories, I connected them to make a story. I really did have a dream about dr. Phil though!
-In some pages, you (as the main character) can fly or gently float during a fall. Do you prefer flying than taking a walk?
It’s weird to refer to the character as me, but I guess I am. She is a puppet who is acting out my stories. Yes, I do prefer flying, it’s much more enjoyable. I wish we weren’t stuck in these clumsy, ill-adapted bodies and that we could bounce or fly away instead of dragging ourselves slowly on the ground.
-Some of the characters in the album are mythological creatures (the 3 eyes girl, the snake girl, the horned girl)… Were these girls really in your dreams or they´re just part of your favorite topics?
They were really characters in my dreams but I guess I gave them this specific look. The snake girl is based on a children’s story that my mom read when she was small, and the horned girl from the sea looks a bit like a character I saw in ‘Adventure time’. I draw three eyes on people who have the power to understand something more than what they see, in this particular case the girl has a moment of clarity and then goes back to her drunken state. I know some people who have a third eye, myself I only have two.
-There´s a one page comic called “Srsly Sry”. In the end of that dream you reconciled with yourself. In perspective, how powerful is your dreaming for intimate processes as healing or understanding interior changes?
Very powerful, when I pay attention to it. But it would be useless without writing. Dreams are so easily forgotten. There’s more chance I would recall what I had for lunch on a particular day a year ago than I would remember a dream I had that night.
-Except from the part you wear the clothes that you found underwater, you´re nude in every page. Are you ok with being nude in dreams?
I rarely have dreams about being naked, those typical ‘Oh no, I’m naked at school’ kind of dreams – I never have them. Everyone asked me about the nudity in that book. “Why is she naked?”. I said it’s because she is asleep, of course. But I think I just wanted to draw this girl naked to make a point to myself. She’s not an object of desire (or of ridicule), it’s just her body and that’s the way she is, it exists and it has the right to exist without being contextualized. All my characters were naked at the time.
-Did you have any thoughts about the reception of the album or what people would learn about you?
I didn’t really have any expectations. It wasn’t like an personal diary, it’s a comic book, there is still that distance. And also although I tell very personal things I’m naive enough to believe that only I know what it’s really about. Anyway, it doesn’t matter what it’s really about, as long as it makes sense for the reader who make their own interpretation of the story.
Photo by © Mathilde Vangheluwe.
-Has this album influenced (in the way you draw, ambientation, rythm, etc) your other comics that are not dream-related?
Yes definitely, my stories have gotten a lot more surreal since then. All the dream elements are still there and I find it hard to draw a realistic story. Somebody is bound to have a third eye at some point, or disappear into a tree, or fall asleep and have a strange dream. It’s all constantly changing anyway, I have no idea what I’ll be doing in five years, but that stuff is still there right now.
-What other artists that work with their dreams do you know?
The Belgian surrealists, Frida Kahlo, Winsor McCay, Jim Woodring, Anke Feuchtenberger, David Lynch, and this swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson, I really like him a lot. I like anything dreamy, I guess every artist I like is influenced somehow by dreams, even if it’s not the main subject of the work.
(I’m always looking for movies that are like dreams, so if anyone has recommendations please send them over at valentine.chong (at) gmail.com!)
-Would you ask one of your best friends to share a recent dream about you?
Okay, I asked and I already have something! My good friend Mathilde Vangheluwe writes:
“I dreamed the other day that we were drinking tea together but the infusion was this strange baby root, like in the little comics of Vähämäki*. And you were never answering my questions and just sipping sipping quietly. But that was just a part of a dream in which our house was a gigantic tree house like in a book I read in the book store”.
*(Mathilde refers to “In the garden” by Amanda Vähämäki).
-What about TMH?
We started this collective in 2012 with friends from school, and now we are constantly working together, printing books, giving workshops in schools, going to comics festivals and zine fests, preparing exhibitions… it’s always busy. The name Tieten Met Haar means Hairy Tits, which makes people laugh sometimes. These guys are my best friends, I see them every day. Here is our tumblr http://tietenmethaar.tumblr.com/