Interview with Bowy Goudkamp
I met with Bowy Goudkamp, the creator of performance installation: LO1/REFLECT – which will be on at END OF THE LINE from 1-10 August.
We meet at Aarhus Kunsthal, and initially it feels like a shame we haven’t chosen Bowy’s own workplace; the setting can often tell an outsider a great deal about a creative’s own processes, inspirations and ideas.
Yet as soon as I begin talking to Bowy, she is happy to open up about her own creative path, how she shapes her performances to fit with new settings and how Denmark, and specifically Aarhus, has drawn her back.
Born and bred in The Hague, Bowy moved to Silkeborg in 2011 to study at the Performers House in Papirfabrikken (Paper Mill). This school, which has since closed, was a performing arts school which offered courses in music, electronic music, dance, theatre and circus.
“I went to højskole when I was 20 going on 21 – it was an important time for me as a person. The school was brilliant, they gave us a space to perform and said ‘this space is yours, show us what you can do with it’, while giving us the tools to learn with great and skilled teachers who knew what they were talking about.”
It was here that Bowy grew more of her knowledge in theatre, with courses in physical theatre, voice and expression, character building and method acting.
“They gave us a really good package of methods and techniques for acting – but then we were very much encouraged to not necessarily follow them but rather to be bold and explore our authentic selves as artists.”
After graduating from the Performers House, Bowy moved to London.
“I wanted to work as an actress and to learn to live on my own. To live independently, taking care of myself in an enormous, rowdy city like London was a big test, and has definitely shaped the hardcore work ethic I have now.”
It’s this work ethic and ability to draw inspiration from anything, both from the exterior surroundings and from inside herself, that I want to find out more about. Bowy tells me how her greater source of inspiration is her continual amazement and wonder at humanity:
Unlike other artists I’ve spoken to, Bowy doesn’t have a set formula in where and when the next source of inspiration will come from. She tells me how a certain shade of colour, a phrase or sound, a particular setting or a change in her own behaviour can trigger a sudden creative idea as these triggers then have a vivid effect on her imagination.
It was in her fifth year of living in London that Bowy began to start writing. It was when she was in Italy one summer, that she saw a performance at the Teatro Sotterraneo in Puglia. A monumental villa with an ancient, most beautiful chamber structure and was invited by the theatre’s owner to come and put on a performance there for the following year as part of an annual festival.
“This was the first time where an opportunity like this had come up. Instantly inspired by the structure of the place, I decided that it could be an opportunity for me to do my own work.”
“Walking back from the Teatro to the town square that evening, I thought I should just sit down and contemplate the possibilities for a moment. As I sat down and ordered a red wine, ideas started snowballing from my mind. A whole play just laid itself out like it had been brewing and was just waiting for the right moment to pop its head.”
Taking herself outside of her comfort zone as an actress, Bowy continued writing and also started working more on the production side of plays in London. This quickly became something which felt comfortable and natural, so she began to seek out the quiet corners of London in which to write her own work: the cafes in the parks, community gardens or at home with a candle and a quiet windowsill.
“Eventually I realised though that London is very fast – people are very ambitious, always have places to go and people to meet. There is a constant drive like a whip that moves the city forwards and onwards. It’s also very polluted and after five years, I no longer enjoyed the day-to-day actions one has living in a city like that.
And so as I was writing I was realising I could write anywhere. So I asked if I can write anywhere: where does my heart want to be, where do you want to go? And the answer straight away was Denmark. I’d been travelling back and forth to Denmark over the years even in my time in London and I always knew there was nothing like the way I felt when I was here. Every time I came here it was like an exhale, a total relaxation within myself, I knew that this was my home.
So then I asked myself where in Denmark? And the answer, again straight away, was Aarhus. It was like a part of me had always known but I had not been able to confess this to myself till this time. I spent two months in Copenhagen meeting the industry professionals, casting directors, agents, attending networking events, and then moved to Aarhus in September.“
I ask Bowy what it was specifically that drew her back to Denmark and why she has chosen Aarhus as the base for her work. “I think Aarhus is similar to The Hague in many ways so it reminds me of home. I always describe this town as ‘the higher octave' of The Hague. It has all the things I need and had back home – and then some!”
Her association with the city as a very creative place comes from the freedom and discovery she experienced during her time at the Performers House in Silkeborg. But it’s more than just this association of creativity though. Bowy talks about the draw of Aarhus:
“It’s also the freshness of the air, the way the sky turns pink for long periods of time at dusk. It might sound cheesy to say but for me, the ARoS rainbow panorama is the perfect metaphor. At the end of the rainbow for me is Aarhus – my home, where I’ve found an undeniable sense of belonging.”
How did you get to hear about AARHUSMAKERS and END OF THE LINE?
“I met AARHUSMAKERS as I was invited by Aisha Natasha to an exhibition at EOTL. I arrived at this space and was immediately struck with awe by the mirror room - it was twilight so there was a beautiful shimmer which had the greatest effect on me. I thought this venue was amazing. I walked through the mirror room into the gallery and realised what a great setup it was. And on top of that, I loved the artwork of the artists that were being exhibited.
It’s such an interesting space – for me, it was like walking into this otherworldly, black box dissociated from everything deemed normal – a complete universe on its own. I think I was drawn to the element of an odd space – my style just naturally gravitated to the weirdness of it.”
The END OF THE LINE space stayed with Bowy after leaving the venue. She already had her first solo performance booked for the 10th of October at theatre Svalegangen – titled: LO1/ A Circle Around the Middle.
Just as inspiration had struck at the venue in Italy, Bowy began to think about how EOTL could work as a venue for her performance piece:
“Going home and having this venue in mind a performance developed itself rather effortlessly. I can state that a surrounding plays a huge part for me in creating a performance – when I have a venue in mind, everything else just follows. The performance installation is however connected to the play in October but distinct in its own right, some sort of alternative version.”
What can people expect from your performance?
“All the things that are already there at the END OF THE LINE – you step into a different universe. We experience something else from what we experience in Midtbyen and in our daily lives. We open our doors to allow for an extra-terrestrial being, called LO1, to enter the space and then we go on a little journey together.”
The performance will take place in the mirror room of the gallery. Bowy wants the reflection of the mirrors to act as a trigger for studying the sides, corners and angles of our psyche which are not so easily found – yet with the right use of this kaleidoscopic instrument we might be able to see what’s around the corner. Bowy's wish:
“Come, and allow yourself to be uncomfortable. I think discomfort is a good sign. Normally you would refrain from feeling uncomfortable but with this setting and with this performance it’s actually a good sign as it means that it’s working. The discomfort shows us that we are challenged and indicates that we are going into unexplored territory – going beyond our normal ways of thinking – our programmed states of mind.”
Tickets for LO1 Reflect are now available: https://aarhusmakers.com/endoftheline-calendar/2019/8/1/lo1-reflect
A performance installation by Bowy Goudkamp, in collaboration with Steffen Tast (Light), Ejner Miranda-Dam / Alex Newman (Sound), Mihaela Luca (Make-up), Aishanatasha Adisasmita (Media).
Running from 1st-10th August, the first week (from 1st-4th) Regular Performances.
The second week (8th-10th), Special Edition Performances:
Thursday 8.8 23:45-01:30 Midnight Edition
PROM PRÆTERNATURAL- A night where we freak our foes.
Friday 9.8 18:00-19:30, 20:00-21:30
For 30min following the performances there will be an artist talk and an opportunity to ask questions about the performance installation.
Saturday 10.8 19:00-23.00, 21:00-23:00
Closing Night + Exhibition from some of the artists involved in the project. Beverages, good company, come and join!