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Review: David Bowie Is

Sunday 04 August 2013

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Words Alice Bell

STOP EVERYTHING. It’s the last week of the V&A’s most successful exhibition ever, an in-depth retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie – one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times.

Spindle was lucky enough to finally get to visit the sell-out exhibition to see for ourselves what the hype is all about. Arriving half an hour before the doors to the museum open to join the already long queue of people eager to get the remaining tickets set aside for same-day entry, the anticipation began. It was well worth the wait, as this is one of the most absorbing and inspiring exhibitions I have been to in years.

Spending over two hours in the exhibition, I felt compelled to read every caption and look closely at every one of the 300 or so objects, which included handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I went into the exhibition as a great fan of Bowie, both as a musician and performer, but left in awe of the man as an artist that has had complete control over every aspect of his career, from music, to visuals, to costume. Seeing his creative processes and influences showed just how ground-breaking his work really is, especially seeing it in the context of the attitudes of the time.

David Bowie’s cut up lyrics for ‘Blackout’ from Heroes, 1977
© The David Bowie Archive

Bowie has been a major influence on many; without him we would not have Lady Gaga, Madonna or any musician who has ever dared to be different. For this reason alone, if you do have a chance this week, I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition (and to get there early!).

Don’t worry if you can’t get to see it before it closes, as on Tuesday 13th August, the V&A present David Bowie is happening now, a nationwide cinema event screened live from David Bowie is as the finale to the exhibition. It will be shown in over 200 cinemas across the UK and will be introduced by exhibition curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh. Featuring special guests offering an insight into the stories behind some of the 300 objects on display from the David Bowie Archive, it will be the last opportunity to experience the exhibition before it goes on international tour, starting at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada.

David Bowie is at the V&A closes on Sunday 11th August.

David Bowie is happening now will be distributed to cinemas by Picturehouse Entertainment at 7pm, Tuesday 13th August.

Main Image: Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane by Brian Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive, 1973