“David Bowie Is…” Exhibition Brooklyn Museum of Art Reviewed
Everyone is a Bowie fan. Everyone thinks he was so ‘cutting edge’, a ‘legend’ a ‘pioneer for the weirdos’. Throw a rock go on and try and find one person who doesn’t instantly say how fabulous this guy was. “Genius!”, “Trendsetter!”, “Brilliant!”
Roll your clock back to 1979 and try and be a fan in the suburbs, For those of you who didn’t know the young Hel, she was dubbed “Bowie” take a look at my high school yearbook and it clearly documents this. But, I was also the faggot lover- “did you know he sucked Rod Stewart’s dick?”, “Is he a man?”, “Is he a drag queen?” “He’s gross:”
I fell in love with Bowie from a very young age under the guidance of a very cool brother. I found him stunningly gorgeous and ‘Young Americans’ was played so often in my childhood home I cant help but think the vinyl wore thin. Baby Hel, literally fixated on the album cover. He was so feminine, the cigarette swirl the glassy weird eyes, I was hooked. In years that would follow I would have the honor of seeing Bowie live more than once with that same brother, to see him in The Elephant Man on Broadway with my mother and in late night movie theaters watching The Man Who Fell to Earth with a much older much cooler boyfriend. Bowie to me is woven into the fiber of my being. He was the patron saint of the slightly odd. Mismatched eyes, confusing lyrics, those teeth, like seriously the sexiest teeth in rock and roll. I haven’t even touched upon his music yet. My feelings and opinions of Bowie are purely emotional. I dont know what song comes off which album in most cases but with this guy. I could hold my own on a Jeopardy category.
It was with nervous excitement that I embarked upon the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibit in Brooklyn. Excited to see his ‘stuff’ but almost afraid to view it. I haven’t listened to his last album Black Star- cuz to me Bowie isn’t dead. Hell, he hasn’t even aged, nor have I. Stepping into the darkened hall and met face to face with the famous ‘Tokyo Pop’ jumpsuit and Bowie in lights. In that split second I literally couldn’t breath. As the strains of Bowie came over the headset (do those things get an anti bacterial scrub cuz if not I’m gonna puke), my heart raced, my eyes filled with tears, my temperature spiked and he died. Bowie was dead- and here was his stuff -have a gander.
Me and about a million others scuffed by artifacts of the man who was.I instantly felt contempt for everyone around me- he’s my Bowie, he’s dead and weren’t you the asshole who mocked me when I was a fan way back when? But hey they have a right to catch up I suppose, just get out of my way. Museums try to monitor flow but they do a shitty job. Not unlike the Tim Burton exhibit of years ago its all well and good to trickle in patrons but once they’re there, they aint moving- the incredible lack of airflow just makes you uncomfortable enough to want to get out before you suffocate. Seriously turn down the air temp for the love of God before people start collapsing.
Nifty stuff? Very nice to see his costumes, from the ‘Life On Mars” video and that incredible ‘Scary Monster’ clown get up- shout out to the Thin White Duke cuz that guy was thin as hell, a side effect of the cocaine? That’s a lyric in case you didn’t know, but you knew. To view his loincloth from The Man Who Fell to Earth, video screens of his movies, his interviews, his Warhol interactions caused pods of people to slack jaw stare at screens giving me opportunity to slither in and look at Bowie’s art. He would paint on 35mm slides and those pieces were used on his Ziggy Tour as backdrop- how cool is that!?
His infatuation with A Clockwork Orange, his books, his stuff..all his cool dead guy stuff- so many costumes and body stockings on faceless silver masked mannequins and the in and out sensor activated headphones switching from songs to words to sounds to silence and if you slipped them off you’d hear the crowd coughing and sniffing or singing along and it gave a hollow, drug haze of unreal, to the whole thing. Until you step into a live performance film and remove your headphones and a giant screen tells you we can be Heroes but your hero is dead so you clutch the hand of the one you love and weather it like a bad acid trip- and you’re much older and you’re surrounded by too many people with too many opinions and did any of them actually ‘GET IT” or were they there in their haute faux artsy bullshit fashion (turn to the left!) or are they just like me?
Older, cynical, scarred from too many mainstream expectations… this is a shrine, this is a tomb. This is an emotional roller coaster that dumps you into a gift shop like a ride at Disney until you want to punch a wall or the stupid hipster asshole in the leather bucks.
David Bowie is….