It seems hilarious to think that I was six years old when David Bowie released his self-titled debut album, which would have been on June 1st of 1967. Coincidentally, and in an act of incredibly bad timing on Bowie’s part, that was the shared release date of another album you may have heard of: The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What a way to ensure that your most heartfelt artistic efforts are completely and totally eclipsed by another act! Bad Timing! In hindsight, also hilarious.
Point being that David Bowie has been part of the soundtrack for me since childhood. Surprisingly, this year (four decades on) I have learned more about the guy than I ever imagined I didn’t know. Just a couple of months ago, Showtime aired David Bowie: Five Years, a fantastic documentary spanning five key years in Bowie’s music career that was just one mind-blowing revelation after another. For example, I had no idea that Legendary keyboardist Rick Wakeman played piano all over Hunky Dory. Who even pays attention to stuff like that? Mind blowing. Five Years definitely deepened my respect and admiration for the man, his music and his insane contribution to global pop culture. David Bowie is a Musical Genius!
If you have ears and eyes and you are a David Bowie fan, then you’ve already also heard about David Bowie Is; the universally critically lauded, career retrospective that became the fastest-selling exhibition in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum’s history. David Bowie Is has already hit Toronto, Sao Paulo and Berlin, and on September 23rd, this exhibition — which features over 300 items including photos, costumes, artwork, hand-written lyrics, stage props, videos and other items from David Bowie’s Personal Archive — opened at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which will be its only stop in the US.
That same Tuesday, a documentary film about the touring art exhibition, also called David Bowie Is, had a one-night only screening in various theaters across the country. I saw the film in NYC and it was so exciting that it made me want spend a thousand dollars just to go to Chicago and see the exhibit. Directed by Hamish Hamilton, the film is an excellent primer and will greatly enrich your visit should you have exhibit tickets at the ready. But for those who will be unable to view the exhibition in person, this film is the next best thing. It may even inspire you to pull out all the stops in order to make it to the Museum of Contemporary Art before David Bowie Is moves on to its next destination in January of 2015.
In addition to a detailed tour of the exhibition’s key features, the film includes tons of back-story and insights from curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh who serve as onscreen hosts and narrators. And let me tell you, they know their shit. One of my favorite parts of the film is a viewing and explanation of extensive, illustrated storyboards that Bowie created for a film to be based on the Diamond Dogs album. It is unreal. You’ll also hear conversations with exhibit-goer-fans, and commentary about Bowie’s far-reaching influence with pop taste-makers such as Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto, who created the iconic costumes seen in the photo below.
Costumes Designed By Kansai Yamamoto: (left to right) Tokyo Pop vinyl bodysuit (1973), Asymmetric knitted bodysuit (1973); cloak decorated with kanji characters (1973), all designed for the Ziggy Stardust tour.
If you missed the September 23rd screening and want to see what this exhibit is all about, David Bowie Is will have additional screenings around the country on November 20th. Visit This Link for theaters, show times and ticket purchasing information in your area.
The Worley Gig Gives David Bowie Is Five out of Five Stars!