Wednesday 14 August 2013

David Bowie Is Happening Now

Last night numerous cinemas up and down the country screened the live finale of the David Bowie is exhibition direct from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

There was a 15 minute pre-show, featuring clips of V&A visitors writing on white boards what David Bowie meant to them (David Bowie is...and then there was a wide range from 'God' to 'Mine!'). Bowie songs naturally formed the soundtrack to the clips. Then there was a speeded up version of how the exhibition was put together, starting with ideas written on a board during a brainstorming session and finishing with the exhibition rooms full of costumes and other content.

The live feed started promptly at 7.00 p.m. Robbed of the standard cinema safety net of seemingly endless adverts and film trailers, some people were caught out and continued to arrive at staggered intervals over the next 15 minutes or so. A costly error; at £14.20 a ticket it wasn't such a good idea to miss any of the show.

Exhibition curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh were the anchors for the live presentation. They led us on a walk-through of the various rooms and explained the relevance of many of the exhibition's highlights.

The journey through the rooms was punctuated by various guests who each spent a few minutes talking about their connection - and, in some cases, collaboration - with Bowie. One of the most interesting speakers was Japanese costume designer Kansai Yamamoto who had plenty of amusing anecdotes. 

Live presentations run a number of risks. A couple of cinemas had technical problems, but mine was fine. There was only the occasional piece of hesitant delivery and a few stumbled words here and there and one or two of the guests seemed quite nervous when delivering their respective pieces (Jarvis Cocker, for one).

There were numerous clips of Bowie performances from concerts and videos, the last of which was a moving rendition of ''Heroes'' from the Concert For New York City back in 2001 (just six weeks after 9/11). There was also an intriguing section showing the initial plans for Bowie's intended Diamond Dogs film which unfortunately never happened.

It was a fascinating event - lasting just over 90 minutes - and it cemented memories of my visit to see the exhibition a few weeks a go. I hope there will be some sort of official release on DVD or Blu-ray, possibly beefed up with some full length performances or extra interviews.

The exhibition will now set off on a world tour, starting with the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (25 September - 27 November) and then moving on to Sao Paolo (Brazil) in the early part of 2014. More venues are still to be confirmed.

No comments: