Costumes, Art and Paraphernalia
To his fans, he is God. Even non-fans consider him one of the most brillant entertainers of the 20th century. The exhibition „David Bowie is“, which has been seen by almost one million visitors already, demonstrates — in a very cool way — that the man is indeed flamboyant singer, trailblazing performer, sexsymbol and fashion icon. Well-known facts. But thankfully he is also a bit of a hoarder, a trait that enabled this wonderful show.
The 1947 born former Davie Jones opened his archive, which holds artefacts from five decades, to the curator of the world renowned Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He keeps costumes and notes, sketches for album covers and so on — a stunning collection of art work, memorabilia, personal things and, yes, bits and pieces (like the government letter confirming the official name change to David Bowie).
If not throughout fascinating, the exhibits are always original, sometimes outright hilarious. There are embroidered kimonos for his „Aladdin Sane“ tour and a brocate coat designed by Alexander McQueen for the „Earthling“ tour in 1997. There are meticulous sketches for stage lighting, childhood pictures, the keys to his Berlin apartment, hand-written and thoroughly edited song texts (Ziggy Stardust seemed to be his own worst critic!), and even a tissue, „circa 1974“, blotted with lipstick; yes, his own. Visitors learn what a fabulous painter Bowie is and how far ahead he was in time: He did short promotion films for his music when the term „video“ wasn’t even used yet.
Special about the exhibition, which opened in March 2013, is the pinpointed soundtrack for nearly every area of the exhibition. For instance, „Space Oddity“ enters your ear, via stereo headphones, when you walk towards a section dedicated to that time in Bowie’s career. The headphones come with a pocket receiver that provides geolocated audio-accompaniment. When the show opened in Chicago, a US critic raved: „Works like magic!“
Well, rather high-tech.