An immersive and exciting experience. It’s one way you could summarise, in a few insufficient words, the show David Bowie Is. Co-produced by the Victoria and Albert Museum and curated by Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh (who have been culling materials from his outstanding archive in NYC), the exhibition has landed in Barcelona at the Museu del Disseny. Sumptuously showcased are more than 300 objects, including lyrics, costumes, photographs, videos, set designs and instruments, that pertained to the glitter-dusted life of the world’s best-loved Starman.
Bowie’s creative process, ways of working and communicating favoured by this musical innovator and cultural icon, are explored through shifting styles and his continuous reinventions of himself, his collaborations with other musicians and evidence of his being influenced by a diversified spectrum of visual art, design, drama and beyond.
This majorly articulate show has already been on worldwide tour since 2013, visiting nine venues (next stop: Tokyo, Japan) and it promises to attract lots of visitors in Barcelona, too, where an exciting series of special events have been organised in relation to the show over the upcoming summer months.
While walking through this impressive collection of memorabilia, you will listen to his music and get lost in his fantastic charisma, that still pops electrically off vintage album covers and photo ops. From his calligraphy to the colourfully crazy clothing he chose to wear (often designed by fashion’s most-famous names), his eclectic persona shines through the things on view inside the museum, far from cold relics. Though it is Bowie’s remarkable energy and inimitable personality — which expressed itself through many kinds of media, and over several decades — that is undeniably the true source of inspiration meant for the viewer to admire.
Disclaimer: you might just find yourself dancing during the show.
David Bowie Is. The title stands as a lingering statement, because there is no single answer to encapsulate what the man represents; it is up to us to think about on this very special occasion. David Bowie here is still alive, his presence continues to influence us as average people and generations of artists that will follow after. His example encourages individuals in the creative industry to question the existing rules to create novel and more personal standards, and hopes we all will discover what’s inside of ourselves and chase after our dearest, most bizarre dreams.
In this same way David Jones, born in Brixton, South London, transformed into David Bowie (and Ziggy Stardust, among others), by believing in his own fantasies and sorting out sources of inspiration for himself in the great artists he admired.
The exhibition is a pure treat for lovers of Bowie’s complex story and those who are not so familiar with his legacy. Not only because his work was often groundbreaking, but also because the show is in fact extremely well curated and appealing to physically explore. It was clearly put together with great attention to all the details and deep love for this amazing human.
Against all pressure to conform to society’s bland regulations, there’ll always remain the example of David Bowie, who was ever shocking everybody with a new direction, who is an eternal herald, calling us to wake up and see the world glimmer in a brighter light of our own making.
Text and photographs by Diana di Nuzzo