Issue 94



13 August 2014

Starting next July (2015), the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), is presenting  the acclaimed exhibition celebrating the extraordinary career of one of the most pioneering and influential artists and performers of the modern era – David Bowie. 

David Bowie is was created by the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London drawing upon unprecedented access to Bowie’s archive of costumes, objects, album artwork, and memorabilia. The exhibition includes lyric sheets, hundreds of photographs, stage sets, rare videos, filmed live shows, over 50 costumes and interviews with key collaborators. Special displays within the exhibition explore Bowie’s influences as musician, stage performer, writer and actor – and his continuing legacy.

Bowie putting on his man-suit in a scene from ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ (1976).
Bowie putting on his man-suit in a scene from ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ (1976).

The exhibition premiered in London last year and became one of V&A’s most popular shows, drawing over 311,000 visitors.

ACMI Director & CEO, Tony Sweeney, said the landmark exhibition showcases Bowie as a true innovator in music, film, fashion and culture, and traces his changing style and reinvention.

“The mystery of David Bowie as an enigma is so lovingly explored in this incredible immersive exhibition you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped inside the mind of this astonishing cultural and pop icon,” Tony said. “Bowie is a figure whose social and creative influence and significance far exceeds his status as a pre-eminent rock performer and in David Bowie is, his incredible career is showcased in glorious detail.”

Bowie performing on his 'Glass Spider' tour (1987)
Bowie performing on his ‘Glass Spider’ tour (1987)

V&A’s curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, from the Museum’s Department of Theatre and Performance, selected more than 300 objects and films for the show. Of the exhibition they said:

“The exhibition looks in-depth at how Bowie’s music and radical individualism has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, film and contemporary popular culture over an incredible 50-year career and demonstrates how Bowie has inspired others to challenge convention and pursue freedom of expression.”

Bowie’s first major hit Space Oddity (1969) and the introduction of his first fictionalised stage persona Major Tom, inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, granted him critical and commercial success as an established solo artist. His cinematic influences abound with his elaborate storyboards and set design for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974) – originally envisioned as a musical – inspired by Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927), leading him to take the combination of rock music and theatre to new heights.

Bowie posing for the cover painting of 'Diamond Dogs'  (1974).
Bowie posing for the cover painting of ‘Diamond Dogs’ (1974).

Excerpts and props from Bowie’s own work in feature films such as Labyrinth (1986) and Basquiat (1996) are displayed in the exhibition, as do many of his ambitious and ground-breaking music videos. The year 1972 marked the birth of his most famous creation; ‘Ziggy Stardust’, a daringly androgynous and otherworldly being. A pivotal performance of Starman on Top of the Pops in a multi-coloured suit signalled a challenge of social conventions, daring fans to shape their own identities.

Bowie’s collaborations with artists and designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film are explored throughout the exhibition. On display are more than 50 stage costumes including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, Kansai Yamamoto’s flamboyant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973) and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997).

Bowie in a still from his clip 'Jump, They Say' (1993)
Bowie in a still from his clip ‘Jump, They Say’ (1993)

Bowie’s fruitful experimental period in Berlin between 1977 and 1979 is also explored through a series of pioneering records he produced known as the Berlin Trilogy, including the creation of the stylish ‘Thin White Duke’ persona identified with the Station to Station album and tour (1976).

More personal items such as never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics are also featured in the exhibition as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.

Bowie in a still from the music clip 'Blue Jean' (1987).
Bowie in a still from the music clip ‘Blue Jean’ (1987).

ACMI is the only venue in Australasian to feature David Bowie, the season will include a specially curated program of talks and special events, late night programs, film screenings and live performances.

David Bowie is will open at ACMI on 16 July 2015 as part of the Victorian Government’s prestigious Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. Tickets go on sale to the general public in November 2014. To register for exclusive pre-sale ticket opportunities, visit:


This article was updated on 14/08/2014 to clarify the dates.

Excerpts from Press Release


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