Fiona Bowie, (she/her),(we/us), is a multi-spëcial, intermolecular being, visual and sound artist.
A first generation settler (adopted and enculturated by immigrant Italian/Scottish parents), born in K'emk'emelÃ¡y
(colonially known as Vancouver BC) and living on the stolen, unceded, ancestral and current territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, with gratitude and acknowledgement of their aeons-long nationhood, cultures, knowledge, languages and all their relations. We strive to listen and learn.
She has lived in Vancouver, Toronto, Samara, Costa Rica and Sitges, Catalunya, Spain.
Bowie works with film, video, sound, photography, sculpture and superimpostion of various forms.
Her landworks invite restorative collaborations with other planetary species.
Her work is borne of a desire to untangle enculturated articulations, that in their ubiquity,
continue to perpetuate false hierarchies, detachment from and disregard for others and other life forms.
She has been known for making early immersive gallery environments with an affinity for her concepts determining form.
This practice also extends to executing work generated by the most lightweight, diminutive mechanisms possible: born of a desire
to contribute as much conversation as possible while at the same time, adding as little material as possible to the
cumbrous glut of human-stuff. Additionally, due to each work's bespoke mechanisms and optics, their dimensions are variable, depending on the space in which they are installed.
She is Professor Emerit, Emily Carr University.
Bowie's early work, such as the dynamically orbiting swell(1996) was centered on considering the framing and affirmation of cultural and visual heirarchies through the representation of others (charactarization; portraiture). Personal, found and well-known portraits were cropped of context and arranged into a sea of undulating facial expressions (revealing portraits that subtly progress through open mouthed gazes, frowns, smirks, toothy grins and back to gazes), nullifying the original images' social contexts. Bowie's image machine refuted sustained observation of particular subjects by making them only fleetingly available to the viewer.
Through further experimentation, Bowie developed a desire to create forms of visual experience that would structurally mirror her content, rather than simply relay it through already established means. Bowie designed hand built the projectors for her smaller works and her 360 degree installations.
Bowie's installations, through their stranger form(s), contrast taken for granted conventions or techniques that still endure, (ubiquitous rectalinear strategies: from painting through photography and cinematography).
Other 360 degree immersive installations Bowie produced over the years became narrative in structure with bespoke image machines and include, among others: phenotypes, where we become night walkers observing the indoor activities in a car-centric suburban cul-de-sac; Slip/Host, an otherworldly place where Alan Cumming plays two roles in an outlandish narrative examining the excesses of contemporary capital and social order.
Flow (2009-present), a work by Bowie with collaborator UBC
computer scientist Sidney Fels, located at 1 Kingsway in Vancouver (flow1kingsway.com), the first media artwork in
Vancouvers public art program. Flow is and ever-evolving mis-en-scene.
Bowie photographed hundreds of individuals, including colleagues and neighbours of 1 Kingsway in Vancouver and local species (eagles, crows, racoons,etc.), who were 'friended' in order to appear with varying probability and superimposed upon landscapes who's histories had been erased by razing, demolition, hurricane, development, fire, etc. The images disappear slowly through very long dissolves or rapidly, when interupted by individuals inside the site.
Flow was selected as one of the top 40 public artworks installed in North America in 2009, by AFTA jurors, artists Fred Wilson and Helen Lessick. Flow was the only Canadian artwork to be selected.
Surface (2010-2013), was a 24/7 live documentary broadcast onto local screens and a dedicated website of the underwater life of Vancouvers False Creek, previously a sacred water of Sen̓áḵw, became industrialized after the formation of the city and over the decades, one of the most poluted waterways in Canada. The project operated from 2010-2013.
For a number of years, Fiona has been anonymously posting socially and politically charged photographic interventions on Google Earth.
Bowie's work over the last two decades emerges from an interest in temporality and divergent scales or environs in relation
to consciousness. This ongoing theme in her work is borne out of a desire to broaden and deepen attention to and privilege
complexities of little considered temporal and structural relations to other organisms (in otherwise regulated, habitual
human structures) to focus awareness of and respect for the interlacing of all living and non-living entities.
Bowie considers Biodynamism (and associated activism) an integral part of her life-long practice. Both informing her media-based work and daily life wherever she has lived, this stewardship part of her practice includes soil and biodiversity restoration as well as working alongside minute organisms in the production of artworks."I can't separate the (past and current) state of nature from my art practice: what I create, generate, contribute to, impart and disseminate as a human can't be compartmentalized in this way: I always have a nerve ending that connects to my environs.
Fiona is currently producing a series of works that articulate social norms of subjectivity and perception in relation to materiality; engaging physics and encorporating visuals, sound and materials.
They are titled using symbols.
Fell Silent is a collection of videos and sound that started production during her in years in Costa Rica.
Fiona Bowie is a musician/singer/songwriter in SLickerSlacker and co-singer, songwriter for former project Chopper.
In addition to producing her own artworks and music, she has acted as a curator and most recently facilitated projects and research by other artists, curators and academics at her Orbitas artist residency in Costa Rica (2014-2021). Bowie designed, built and directed Orbitas. She also created the sustenance gardens and stewarded the forest at this facility. A major part of this project included the hand removal of invasive species (that predated the project) and nuturing the return of endemic species. At Orbitas, when not hosting participants, Bowie lived in relative isolation with wild flora and fauna. Her most recent works center around this engagement.
Fiona Bowie graduated from UBC (BFA) in 1990 and from the School of Contemporary Art SFU (MFA) in 1998.
Fiona Bowie is Professor Emerit, Screen Arts and Audain Faculty of Visual Arts Emily Carr University, located at Skwahchays (colonially known as the False Creek Flats), in K'emk'emeláy (Vancouver British Columbia).
She continues to be a part of the ECU community, teaching studios periodically.
Bowie is curious how the diversification of practices and collectives may loosen the intertwining the art world to that of late capital (it's speculative practices with regard to buying and selling art; of collecting as a economic venture).
Bowie advocates taking individual efforts and actions to protect our natural world.
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