TSOTA x TRS Studio Visits: Parice Bowyer

TSOTA x TRS Studio Visits is a collaboration between The State of the Arts and The Royal Standard. TRS is an artist-led gallery, studio, and social workspace in Liverpool, working with over 40 artists. Every month we will be presenting interviews and studio visits with artists working in the space and chatting to them about their practice, inspirations and what art means to them. This month, we talked to artist Parice Bowyer. 

Helayna: Hi Parice, lovely to meet you. So first of all, tell me about your work.

Parice: My practice mainly aims to explore existentialism, mainly in terms of issues of memory and sense of self, modernising the philosophy for a more contemporary audience.

Helayna: Looking through what you do, you seem to work across multiple mediums, including performance, film and photography. I was wondering how you choose what medium is best to portray what you are trying to say? Is it decided the moment a topic is chosen or more spontaneous?

Parice: Yeah, the  method or medium I use always depends on the idea or concept – I never go into a project thinking, this will be a performance or I am going to make a film. I’ll just have an idea and then whichever medium best represents what I’m trying to capture, that’s what I go with.

Helayna: So, I guess I probably should just get this over and done with, the obligatory COVID question. I’m curious about the way your work or your perspective changed, and therefore if the themes you worked with shifted?

Parice: I think, somewhat surprisingly, I started to work more collaboratively. Over COVID I collaborated with my dad to create the film ‘I want you to be aware of your stomach’. On my website, there’s not a lot of context to it, but there’s a lot behind it.

It was really nice to collaborate with my dad, especially with it being during COVID, and as we both suffer with anxiety we used self-hypnosis as a means to deal with that. So, we started doing that together. I decided I wanted him to either make me forget a memory or implant a fake one.

At one point, I got him to hypnotise me, and he implanted a memory that me and my twin brother went to Disneyland as kids. I can still see it now, my little brother, running up to Donald Duck. It feels so real, but I couldn’t remember actually going to Disneyland, like that’s every kid’s dream. So, I ran to my brother to ask him and he told me it never happened.

Still from film ‘I want you to be aware of your stomach’, Parice Bowyer. (Click to watch).

I’ve also got more into writing. I wouldn’t say I’m a writer by any stretch, but for my piece that was in a publication for Cherri Harari, I wrote a bit of text. Recently I have been writing more text about whether you can be an existentialist and an absurdist. and I don’t really know why I started doing it, but it’s only happened recently since COVID.

The next project, ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury’, was also in collaboration, this time with Nicole Stiff. And then we started: ‘Rudolf and the Schwarzkoglers’ which is a performance collective. Since COVID, I just got very more collaborative.

Helayna: How was the experience working with another artist considering your practice is quite personal in its themes? How was it like sharing your vision with someone else?

Parice: I never really saw myself as a collaborative artist, but I think because I tend to collaborate with people I’m close with and am comfortable enough to share that  personal side of the art with. The most important part is that they understand my practice, they understand what I can bring, and vice versa.

Helayna: I’m curious about the performance side of your practice, in the way your ideas are generated, how you come up with visuals, prepare and execute the performance. Do you have scripts alongside you?

Parice: Characters are an integral part. I’m not the most confident person in the world, so if I become this character, I sort of detach it from myself and then, I’m able to get up in front of everyone.

For my performance of ‘In this Fatuous Comedy of Life’, that I did it as part of my residency, I decided to do a clown magic show. So, rather than writing a script, because I wanted to be like a mix between a magic show and a TED talk in a way, I just made three audio tracks for each act. The tracks were a mix of podcasts, sitcoms, all sorts of stuff like that, which I mashed together to capture and explain what I was trying to talk about. I describe it as the stages of an existential crisis through lockdown.

I work at Asda, so one track was about working a nine to five and sort of the absurdity within that. The last one was in relation to having a God complex in a way. There’s a text which talks about how in terms of existentialism in the atheist sense, we ascribe ourselves the absolute freedom that we normally assume to Gods.

Helayna: Okay, so run me through your process of creation. From how you decide on a theme to work with, all the way to kind of outcomes. What’s the typical process of creation for you?

Parice: Usually, my work stems from like literature. So, I’ll read a book or an articles on topics I’m interested in and then from there it just depends. My practice isn’t very like hands on or physical, it’s very research based and so a lot of time is spent researching, planning, stuff like that. And then just depending on the medium sort of goes from there.

Parice Bowyer’s studio space in TRS, Liverpool.

Helayna: So I was just going ask about colour palette. From your films to the papier-mâché heads on your Instagram, everything’s really fun, colourful, and highly saturated. Was that intentional or is it something that you kind of fell into?

Parice: I think I really like the high saturation because it’s very inviting, contrasting the topics that I sort of cover explore my own sort of existential angst, which may be less inviting. It draws the audience in, and then they can choose whether to stay or interact from there.

Helayna: What would you say your favourite piece to date would be?

Parice: I think it would have to be my very first performance, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’. I had the idea and went around and told everyone ‘Oh I’m going to do this performance for my practice degree show’ before I chickened out. It then got to a point where I talked to many people, that I couldn’t not do it. But I think I think that’s definitely my favourite. I’m just a bit sentimental in a way but also, I think it’s just very clean and sort of captures what I want it to without being too much in a way.

Helayna: So, I was just wondering if you’re working on any current projects, or any other current collaborations that you’re thinking to do, that you want to redirect readers to?

Parice: I’m planning on and do more existential cloud performances, like what I did for ‘In this Fatuous Comedy of Life’. But nothing set in stone just trying to get in show for that. But we’ve got a couple little shows coming up, like in April, ‘Rudolf and the Schwarzkoglers’ going to do some performances.

Thank you Parice for letting me interview you, it was a pleasure. Follow Parice here on Instagram to keep up to date with any upcoming performances and work. Also do check out her website here to see past work in more depth.