David Bowie is – Review


David Bowie is

Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane
Design by Brian Duffy and Celia Philo, make up by Pierre La Roche 1973
© Duffy Archive

To represent David Bowie, his many alter-egos and his phenomenal music career in a museum setting you’re setting yourself up for a hard task, especially when adoring fans and music lovers are bound to have high expectations. However, the V & A have done a fantastic job in curating an exhibition that is just as flamboyant as Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust.

Upon entering the first room of the exhibition, the automatic headset kicks in with the sounds and music – distinctly recognisable of Bowie. The headset takes you on a journey – almost magical, with the technology being able to pin point exactly where you are, triggering the headset to play the interactive displays, as if Bowie is in your head.

The injection of technology didn’t stop with the headsets, projections & digital installations of music videos and documental film gave depth to the exhibition providing an extra dimension to watch, learn and enjoy his performances either as ‘himself’ or one of his several personas.

David Bowie is exhibition

David Bowie is
23 March – 11 Aug 2013
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Positioned throughout the exhibition, several poised, ghostly mannequins dressed in loud authentic costumes, represent the theme of each tour and stage through Bowie’s musical career. It’s interesting to see the change of design depending on bowie’s influence, thoughts and social networking. Every tour had a new character and a new set of costumes, transforming Bowie into something fresh and original every time he performed live.

Bowie was influenced by many designers, including Kansai Yamamoto who designed the striped body suit for the Aladdin Sane tour. This magnificent costume needs to be admired up-close, with the white hypnotic lines creating an almost kaleidoscopic effect.

David Bowie is

Striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour
Design by Kansai Yamamoto. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita
© Sukita / The David Bowie Archive 2012

The exhibition was not only filled with his music, songwriting, costumes and film but with art, showing how he was a master of everything in the creative industry.

The V & A have managed to follow in the pursuit of Bowie’s creativity with the layout, design,technology and even with the accompanying text panels that were interesting, factual and informative, which I can imagine could teach some of the most hardcore fans a thing or two about the innovator himself.

So who is David Bowie? Well I’m still slightly confused on who he really is, but I can tell you that he is a musical genius, an artist, a visionary, a legend and a one man revolution, which the David Bowie Is exhibition definitely portrays.

David bowie is

Original photography for the Earthling album cover
Union Jack coat designed by Alexander McQueen in collaboration with David Bowie
Photograph by Frank W Ockenfels 3. © Frank W Ockenfels 3

Things you may want to know…

  • Tried to book tickets online and they’re sold out? Fear not! You may still have a chance to buy tickets on the day. Turn up when the museum opens(10am), and purchase tickets to see the exhibition later on in the day. However please make sure you check with the V & A before you set off, in case of any changes to avoid disappointment.
  • Looking for the nearest tube station? South Kensington
  • How long does it take to look at the exhibition? It’s divided into 2 rooms, on average it’ll probably take you 1.5 hours.
  • Can you leave the exhibition and come back later to see it again on the same day? No, the exhibition has dedicated time slots with an allocated number of people permitted at each showing. Therefore make sure you visit the toilet before you go in as you won’t be able to use one whilst in there.
  • Can you take photographs or sketch? Unfortunately no, but the V&A may let you download photographs from their website for personal use.

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