I’ve written about Bowie before on this blog, and I make no apology for doing so again. For precisely one week ago I visited the David Bowie is exhibition at London’s V&A and was once again transported by his words and music.
The things that most stand out for me from this exciting showcase of Bowie’s work through sound, video, personal diaries, notes and costume, is the musician’s constant assertion that there is no authorial voice in his creations. Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke and other of his performance personae seem deliberately to negate the identity of the performer. And looking at his most recent album cover there is no image at all of Bowie, just a plain white square over the photo.
There is something important in this negation of the authorial voice. Something which gives greater life and vibrancy to the musical and artistic creation perhaps. Or which simply causes the fans to scream more loudly, so difficult to tolerate is the idea that the person performing is simply a beautiful and tantalising illusion.
The next important thing is Bowie’s approach to song-writing, his chopping up of words and phrases and random rearrangement of them, or his ability to capture lyrics in their entirety, in one take on the page, so the words we read are the words we hear. Surrealist chance or surreal imagination? A combination of the two.
Self-negation, illusion, chance and imagination. A potent mix. A vibrant creative recipe.