On entering the exhibition, we hear Bowie’s voice: "All art is unstable," he says. "There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings."
And it is precisely this multiplicity which the exhibition sets out to highlight. Bombarded by sights and sounds means that, at times, it’s hard to know where to focus your attention. With full access to the David Bowie archive, this exhibition showcases a monumental and expertly curated volume of objects; from music, videos, costumes, handwritten lyrics, set-designs, sketches, album covers to countless other artefacts - including a (slightly fetishized) lipstick-stained tissue and a David Bowie Laura Ashley wallpaper. Self-consciously chaotic, the cluttered and happily perplexing design certainly lives up to Bowie’s promise of instability.
As we’re conducted through a series of rooms charting Bowie’s metamorphoses from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, this labyrinth-like exhibition emphasises the complex dialogue between culture, Bowie’s own – and often dystopian – vision, and his creative output. We see Bowie in a dual role – as both the influencer and influenced.
‘David Bowie is’ both nothing and everything. This unfinished sentence that titles the exhibition captures his indefinable quality. A shape-shifter, metamorphoser, and master of self-transformation, Bowie simply is.
'David Bowie is', is showing at the V&A until 11th August - be sure not to miss out!
Our top David Bowie tracks:
1. China Girl
4. The Man Who Sold the World
5. Rebel Rebel