Sorry to start on this note but I don't listen to David Bowie's music. So when I found out that we were going to his exhibition in the V&A Museum, I reckoned I wouldn't be able to relate to anything on display. I first heard about it in the March issue of Vogue UK. I remember reading Ziggy Stardust... Gay... Rock 'n roll... at least I had a bit of a background on him. Which, really, was nothing compared to all that I was given during the exhibit.
"All art is unstable. There is no authoritative voice. Only multiple readings." - David Bowie
That was the first quote I encountered when I entered. And it's what Bowie stands for. Even though he creates to reflect himself, he still allows his audience to take it whatever way they want to. That's why people all over adored him. He gave them a sense of freedom; he was the pipeline which people's ideas and identities ran through.
Music is his first love. He was part of a band but he later withdrew from it because he was getting frustrated with the limits they were setting themselves up against. That was just about right for Bowie to do because he's too much of a fireball to contain.
As I walked through the exhibit, I was amazed with all the ideas that flowed from his head. Some of them were crazy and bizarre and unusual but all of them were original. Like that Space Oddity song? It was released before the astronauts landed on the moon for the first time. And that film of his where he acts like a mime who can't get his mask off? It was such a spot on metaphor.
But he didn't just influence the music world. He penetrated every single field: art, fashion, film, theater. For fashion, he worked with Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, and Hedi Slimane. Once again we see the collaboration of two art fields. All art is really a symbiosis and Bowie was a catalyst for that.
I went to the National Portrait Gallery the other day and I saw this portrait of David Bowie done by Stephen Finer. It couldn't be a more perfect portrait of a creative genius. There's so much going on but it just amounts to one being. And that's what Bowie did. All his creations come down to one thing: the expression of self.
My favorite part of the exhibit was the room that was set up to look like a concert hall. It was dimly light. There were huge screens that projected the musician playing his masterpieces. I went to the middle of the room and stood there, just allowing the music to take me where it could. I felt such an intensity and it was at that moment I understood why David Bowie was looked up to. His creations have the power to make you... feel.
I didn't walk out of the exhibit becoming a David Bowie groupie. But I walked out with an appreciation for this "one man revolution". I still can't grasp the notion of how so much creativity can come from one person. Is there ever going to be someone like him?
"Thank God for David Bowie who lifted us from the darkness of suburbia and showed us glittering possibilities!" Yup, that perfectly sums it up.