For David Bowie, 1947-2016

bowie_konrads1

As a cultural presence David Bowie was and is pervasive. We’ve watched the movies, we’ve heard the songs. These occasions were at times auspicious and orchestrated, but many, and I think more importantly, were mundane and coincidental. The movies were on tv, the songs were on the radio.

Such commonplace experience proves Bowie has claimed his place in our society. He and his work are popularly and almost unquestioningly accepted. He could have been written off as a freak-show, a sexual deviant or much worse. But he wasn’t. The truth is we wanted a show, we love a show, and production may have been Bowie’s one true constant.

We needed a freak, an alien from another planet to blow our minds. We needed our culture to more broadly accept sexual and gender diversity. We needed to be shown that we can be everything and not simply one thing. We needed a reminder that art and vision is more valuable than the bottom line and convention.

Every part of Bowie’s life’s work was orchestrated, even down to his death. Hiding his illness from the public, Bowie crafted his swan song “★,” accompanied by a video for the single Lazarus, which supports a stage production of the same name (a sort of sequel to a role in an early film in which he starred, The Man Who Fell To Earth). He wrapped it all up just two days before his passing.

That was the last show.

The image above is a promotional photo of the young David Jones while he was performing in his first group, The Konrads. It feels right to use an image from the beginning of his career to cap the ending. Bowie’s career is so often sited for its transformative properties, and what better way to highlight an after than with a before? What form does he take now?

Ashes to ashes.

AWE




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