David Bowie Is More Than a Musician

by Jill Nagel
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Ch-ch-changes are happening at the AGO this month, as the “David Bowie Is” exhibit opens its doors. Fresh from a record-breaking run at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this one-of-a-kind display kicks off its North America tour in the heart of downtown Toronto.

David Bowie Is More Than a Musician

Co-curators, Geoff Marsh and Victoria Broackes, poured through Bowie’s personal archives and chose over 300 pieces, spanning the showman’s five decades of performing. Original costumes, videos, set designs, and photographs are on display for all to see. Through these artifacts, we are able to see a glimpse into the making and cultivation of one of pop’s most recognizable figures. Like the man himself, the title of the exhibition is left ambiguous. “David Bowie Is…” many things to many people. Was he Ziggy Stardust? A Starman? The Thin White Duke?

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Marsh believes that he was all of these things…and none of them. “David Jones is David Bowie but David Bowie is not David Jones.” The persona (or more accurately, personas) was constructed. He created each one of them to be something new, different, and exciting. They were a part of him, yes, but not the entirety.

David Bowie - Fresh Print
He changed and adapted to the musical landscape, making a niche for himself where others faded into obscurity.  The life cycle of a rock-star is relatively short. Apart from certain anomalies, rockers, especially in the early days, had only a few years in the limelight. Bowie refused to fade. Each character had its own time to shine. Each album was an experience. The exhibition uses this to its advantage, not by showcasing a chronological development, but by highlighting themes throughout his career.

Fresh Print - David Bowie Is More Than a Musician

Because of this, the exhibition will resonate with not only fans of David Bowie’s music, but also those who are intrigued by culture in general. Bowie is more than a musician, more than an artist or actor, although he is those things as well. David Bowie is an idea. He is proof that artistry can transcend generations, people can change who they are perceived to be, and that identity is fluid. Like Bowie, we are all different things to different people. David Bowie is the curator of his own image. We can be to. No matter young or old, fan or not, you can find a bit of yourself in the mystery that is David Bowie.

Fresh Print - David Bowie Is More Than a Musician

David Bowie Is More Than a Musician - TorontoCh-ch-changes are happening at the AGO this month as the “David Bowie is” exhibit opens its doors. Fresh from a record-breaking run at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this one-of-a-kind display kicks off its North America tour in the heart of downtown Toronto.

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Co-curators, Geoff Marsh and Victoria Broackes, poured through Bowie’s personal archives and chose over 300 pieces,  spanning the showman’s five decade long career. Original costumes, videos, set designs, and photographs are on display for all to see–A look into the making and cultivation of one of pop’s most recognizable figures, David Bowie.

But, the title of the exhibition raises a question-Who is David Bowie? Was he Ziggy Stardust? A Starman? The Thin White Duke?

bowie4suspenders stagebowie3_edited-3

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