The exhibition combined a significant amount of set design with a number of video projection installations, and created an almost dreamlike environment which visitors were encouraged to explore in a non-linear fashion. An eclectic selection of over 300 objects, mainly lent by The David Bowie Archive, including handwritten lyrics, drawings, costumes and set designs were brought together and presented within a series of distinct environments which reflected Bowie’s constantly changing identity and omnivorous consumption of culture.
As well as the physical design – characterised by angular architecture and a cool monochrome palette, accented with hints of ‘Ziggy Orange’, the exhibition featured several bespoke animated sequences which incorporated photographs, film footage and digitised versions of paper objects. Projected onto a blank, abstract room set, a 4 minute animated film took the visitor on a journey through Bowie’s younger years – from a bedroom in suburbia to the nightclubs of Soho, via the spongelike imagination of a boy who went on to change cultural history. Elsewhere, a series of giant boxes housing 6 of Ziggy Stardust’s iconic costumes doubled up as a 9m high projection screen onto which rare live performance footage was projected.
The overall aim of the design was to reinforce the exhibition’s central message: that Bowie, unlike any other artist of his generation has had, and continues to have, a profound influence on our lives.
Since its premiere in September 2013, David Bowie is has toured the world, appearing in Toronto, Sao Paolo, Berlin, Chicago, Paris, Melbourne, Groningen, Bologna, Tokyo and Barcelona and has now been seen by over 1.5 million visitors worldwide, making it on track to become the V&A’s most visited exhibition in its history.