– By Khahlil Louisy
All the world loved and continue to love the enigma who was David Bowie and what he and his wife, the supermodel Iman – first name only – represented. And, when the bastion of talent passed away two years ago, it felt like the whole world mourned. A preview to the great musician’s retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum titled “David Bowie Is,” organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and lead sponsor, Spotify, delved into the works of the music legend. “David Bowie Is” is neither a question, nor is it a statement. Like art, David Bowie’s work is whatever each individual audience member – whether to his music, film, or mime show – wants it to be.
Throughout his inimitable music career, David Bowie sold upwards of 145 million albums and his music continues to inspire people everywhere. In fact, his single “Life on Mars” was on blast as tech titan, Elon Musk’s, Falcon Heavy rocket shot into space on February 6 – an irony Matthew Yokobosky, the museum’s Exhibition Design Director pointed out, considering Bowie’s fear of flight. Still, the use of that song was fitting and in a sense, nostalgic to many, because his single “Hallo Spaceboy,” inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film Space Odyssey and released to coincide with the first moon landing, was Bowie’s breakthrough moment, granting him critical and commercial success.
On the fifth floor of the museum where the exhibit is staged, a Kansai Yamamoto designed bodysuit which was worn by Bowie on his Aladdin Sane tour, greets visitors. The entire experience is immersive thanks to the incredible AMBEO 3D technology of Sennheiser, who provides the sound experience for the exhibit. Each visitor is given a sleek, leather Sennheiser headphone, through which sound of near incomparable quality, from music and past interviews of Bowie can be heard. The sound is also used in the speakers, videos, and animation throughout the exhibit.
David Bowie Is features more than 300 objects from his teenage years through his death in 2016 – including handwritten notes, sketches of the costumes he wanted to wear, photographs, set designs, album artworks, and rare performance material. It is also incredibly informative, offering a rare insight into Mr. Bowie’s past. Photographs showing him as a mime circa 1968 and his time getting into the avant-garde scene in 1968, when he established a lab with his landlady, after performing at the Drury Lane Arts Lab, takes visitors on a journey through the point in his life when Bowie wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a mime, actor, or musician. All of those details, including live interviews, can be heard via the personal Sennheiser headsets as visitors make their way through the exhibit. Still, one of the most fascinating aspects of the exhibit is the focus on the fashions that Bowie wore throughout his career. He remains one of the pioneers of wearing gender-neutral clothing that were also flamboyant. The costumes on display were made by some of the greatest designers, including Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Kansai Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, and Giorgio Armani among others.
David Bowie Is will be a timed and ticketed exhibition. Tickets are available for sale for $20, $12 for seniors and students, and $6 for children. Lightning Bolt tickets, which gives attendees priority access are available now through the run of the exhibit for $35.