David Bowie Is: Up Close & Personal

In the fifth year of its international tour, “David Bowie Is” ends its journey at The Brooklyn Museum. It is fitting that the exhibit, which originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, should have its last stop in New York, Bowie’s long-time home.

The exhibit was enthralling and completely unlike any other museum experience I have had. This is partly due to the Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones that each guest is provided with. As you go through the space, instead of having to plug in numbers at various intervals, the sound adjusts as you move. It knows where you are in the space and changes to play clips of Bowie’s music and audio of the many interviews, music videos, and movies that are featured throughout. It made the entire experience almost other-worldly, as you felt completely in your own mind as you moved through, hearing nothing but the intended audio feature.

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What struck me the most was how incredibly creative Bowie was. Between the audio portion and the costumes, drawings, song lyrics, and other memorabilia, it was almost sensory overload. However, that feeling is in line with the exhibit’s subject who was known for his ‘out-there’ personas and uncompromising eccentricity. But what the exhibit showed so clearly was Bowie’s creative process. You could see how careful he was with each and every project he worked on and how invested he was in the minutiae of everything he produced, whether it was singing and songwriting, producing videos, laying out stage direction and lighting for live performances, acting in play and movies, or drawing and designing. He did it all, and this exhibit lets you see it all.

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What I would suggest is familiarizing yourself with Bowie (if you aren’t already) before going, as there is so much information it can be overwhelming. I had done some baseline research on Bowie’s life and career before attending, and I’m happy that I did. The exhibit was mostly about his creative process and his art itself, rather than a biographical timeline of the artist. I appreciated this approach, and am very happy it was curated in this way. However, I was also happy to have some background information I could plug in along as I moved through the pieces of  Bowie’s creative life.

The exhibit closes July 15, so get there soon!

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