FROM: BRIXTON, LONDON
SOUND: ROCK / POP / EXPERIMENTAL
Before they turned us loose, we were provided with personal location-sensitive headsets that would feed us the words and music of Bowie to accompany what we standing in front of. The effect was instantly immersive as we were encouraged to take our own journey around the space. It became clear early on that this was unlike any exhibition I have attended. Everything felt so personal and when the seminal performance of ‘Starman’ on Top Of The Pops in 1972 came on, I could have sworn he was pointing right at me from a different time and place.
The emphasis on “here and now” alluded to by Johnson in her keynote is really what brings this event to life. The curation isn't simply a progressional retrospective. This is a phased engagement with the many aspects of one man’s creative vision displayed in a way that he might store them himself, packed into little compartments in a strange and exciting brain. ‘David Bowie Is’ puts out all the building blocks and pieces that inspired and were eventuated when they came into contact with music’s most important icon.
Part magpie, part chameleon, Bowie assembled everything that had an impact on him, drawing them deep within himself and letting them change him from the inside out so that he lived and became his history. We see Eastern cultures colliding with Western obsessions. Kabuki, Broadway, fine art and restaurant menus are all on display around the items they inspired. The exhibition highlights and runs with Bowie’s desire to be as three dimensional as possible, extending his art in every direction with sound, lighting, fashion, visuals and more filling the creative palette to bursting point.
The energy of the music flows so powerfully through this entire experience (especially in the phenomenal final room) that you just want to rock out. It really feels like you’re in the room with Ziggy, within arms' length of the Thin White Duke and so many other and mesmerising icons in a once-in-a-lifetime treat. This is an emotional experience for the die-hard and bound to be a fascinating journey for the new and the curious. There’s even a special section dedicated to Bowie’s landmark Melbourne show at the MCG in 1978 that features items owned by local fans who queued for weeks to score tickets. It’s these personal touches that make the latest incarnation of ‘David Bowie Is’ the biggest and best yet. This is a version that is infused with the DNA of our city and the relationship Bowie ignited with our country’s popular history.
‘David Bowie Is’ will be in residence for its strictly limited season until November 1.