As you probably guessed from my Casual Cosplay, Fall Edition 2014 series, I love David Bowie. For my birthday, I was gifted tickets to the exhibition David Bowie Is at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) on loan from the V&A which displayed the exhibition in 2013. If you are able - get to Chicago before it closes on January 4th. The exhibition in chronologically starting with the fact that Bowie grew up in England post-World War II. Ziggy is there along with Bowie's mime work. Major Tom and The Man Who Fell to Earth. The Thin White Duke. Jareth. The artist, the writer, the performer, the singer, the multi-level force. David Bowie is here in all his faces. In all his facets. In all his greatness. And it should not be missed.
The exhibition consists of over 400 items from the David Bowie Archive (oh to be the Bowievist!) There are handwritten lyrics, set lists, musical scores, original costumes (over sixty, and even include the Life on Mars suit!), photography (swoon!), set designs, album artwork, Bowie's sketches and painting, movie memorabilia, tour items, and rare performance material from the past five decades (even the SNL automaton performance!). Bowie's whole process is on display from his initial album designs to their final execution (half the time altered due to censorship) to the computer program he co-developed for writing his music.
The whole exhibition includes an audio device that digitally syncs with all the displays creating a unique exhibition experience. The headphones definitely come in handy when you walk through the Bowie music video hall (these focus on the videos post-launch of MTV, as you know Bowie was making videos before they were cool). The headphones allow you to only hear the audio for the exhibition you are standing in front of / or closest too. This technical element really levels-up the exhibition.
As an archivist, I stick to the no photography rule put in place by the MCA. If you are looking for a quick visual fix then I suggest you check out the MCA David Bowie Is tumblr or photographs from the V&A exhibition.
However, may I make a different suggestion: For those who are unable to attend the exhibition (or those who want to relive the exhibition) you do have another option: the exhibition catalog by the same name, David Bowie Is. MCA has put up an exceptional playlist on Spotify (over 200 songs!). Put that on and dive into this book (it will give you a taste on what it was like to walk through the exhibition).