David Bowie Is at the V&A
David Bowie is boasts the perfect balance of historical interrogation and compelling declaration of a man with nothing to declare except his sequinned genes. A man who sold the world and lived to tell the tale: this is the definitive display of the world’s most revered chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature, in all his slash-backed splendour.
Attempting to chronologise a man as unfathomably prolific and elusive as David Bowie would be daunting to even the keenest of historians. It comes as no surprise that this Goliathan feat was tackled by eminent fashion house Gucci, in conjunction with audio moguls Sennheiser. The 300-piece cognitive feast of three dimensional multi-faceted installations, displays and projections was carefully chosen by curators Geoffrey Marsh and Victoria Broackes from Bowie’s personal (and nigh obsessive) career spanning cache.
Electing a highlight of this exhibition is ultimately relative to taste and interest, as every piece plays an intrinsic role in the storytelling process – be it the guitar the 16-year-old singer played when he was still known as Davey Jones, to a pocket-size metal spoon carried on Bowie’s person for the sole purpose of consuming cocaine. On entering the stimulating realm of the Thin White Duke, we are met by the famous Kansai Yamamoto bodysuit created for Aladdin Sane (just one of multiple personae developed by the singer as catalysts for his expressive excesses). The exhibition showcases Bowie’s almost pathological need to reinvent and rediscover himself: tortured mime, cracked actor, artistic tricoteur, always ready and waiting to pounce on the next dynamic creative wave.
Segmented in two halves connecting 50 years of artistry, Bowie is carries guests through the swell of bespoke and visually stunning costumes, to handwritten lyrics, drawings and photographs, cleverly speculating a prefix to each area with “Bowie is…” and giving a wonderful air of voyeurism into an alien world. Armed with interactive audio-descriptive narratives, the exhibition is utterly immersive while maintaining a cohesive clarity and organisation. The crescendo comes in the form of live and unseen concert footage played on wall-filling screens, resulting in a moving and impressive experience, largely confirming that (to quote The Dame himself): He is David Bowie, and you are not.
Photos: Lucia Hrdà
David Bowie Is is at the V&A from 23rd March until 11th August 2013, for further information visit their website here.