David Bowie is different things to different people. There is no easy answer as to what, or indeed who, David Bowie is. Hero, Space Oddity, Star Man, Queen Bitch, Rebel Rebel, Moonage Daydream?
David Bowie is all of these things. And much, much more.
The exhibition, David Bowie is is currently showing at Melbourne’s ACMI. The retrospective, organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is a non-chronological look at various key points of progression and divergence in Bowie’s career.
While Bowie aficionados might be disappointed by the lack of critical thought in some of the commentary, the items on display will impress both the most dedicated of fans as well as pop culture transients. You might even have to come back for a second look – I know I will, once (if) the crowds die down a little.
For many caught up in the often manufactured and fleeting pop culture of today, it may come as a surprise to see just how much control Bowie had over his craft – from song writing through to costumes and staging. The very conscious choices about his various personas were clearly informed by Bowie’s interest in visual arts, news, politics, science, and influenced by the people with whom he collaborated.
It’s clear from the moment you walk into the exhibition that the evolution of Bowie as an icon – of music, pop culture, fashion, art, spectacle – is controlled and intentional. It’s easy to forget just how transformative and progressive Bowie has been over the course of his extraordinary and lengthy career. This exhibition doesn’t let you leave without this realisation, be it new or confirmed.
It’s also got me convinced that either Bowie is a hoarder, or that very early on someone saw value in keeping a myriad of items otherwise destined for the bin! On display are hand written lyrics, photographs, sketches, posters, and of course, costumes.
Even if you’re not a Bowie fan, this exhibition is worth a look, as it details a career that has both shaped and been shaped by its surrounds. In this respect, the exhibition is bigger than Bowie – it’s a record of history, of cinema, of pop art, of music, of fashion, all of which are integral to our understanding of culture.
It’s bright, it’s loud (through headphones, mind), it’s eye-opening, and it will leave you tapping your feed and with an earworm for days! Let’s face it – if they served cocktails in the final room, I’d have never left.
David Bowie is will be showing at ACMI from 16 July until 1 November. The exhibition has timed entry, so pre-book tickets to avoid disappointment.
David Bowie is Exhibition opening hours:
Mon, Tues, Wed: 10am-6pm
Thur (with DJ): 10am-10pm
Fri (with late night entertainment): 10am-10pm
Sat & Sun: 9am-6pm
Tickets $25 (full), $19 (concession), $15 (child 4-15 years).