Posted on: 27/08/2015
In the opening week of David Bowie is, our building was packed with writers, fans, artists and academics who all share one thing in common - a love of David Bowie, his craft and how he has changed the world.
From horror and sci-fi to hairstyles and GIFs to politics and cuts-ups, no topic was left uncovered in The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie. Amid the two-day #SymBowsium we had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Will Brooker, Dr. Kathryn Johnson and Robert Forster speak.
Dr. Will Brooker
Dr. Will Brooker, Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at Kingston University, London delivered a keynote presentation entitled, Time Again: Narrative, History and Identity in the Work of David Bowie.
How do we make sense of the various characters, stories, cultural echoes and cross-references in the work of David Bowie?
How can we map the relationship between the identities he adopts within songs, albums and performances, and where does the real life of David Jones figure in this network? This paper begins to sketch a 'Bowie Matrix' of chronology and connections, drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the chronotope to track the recurring themes and call-backs in Bowie's lyrics from the 1960s to the 2010s.
Below is an extract of Will Brooker's Bowie Symposium Keynote Address.
Dr. Kathryn Johnson
Dr Kathryn Johnson, assistant curator of David Bowie is (V&A), delivered a keynote presentation entitled, David Bowie is Becoming a Medium.
Speaking to the BBC in 1976, Bowie claimed that his career was built on the desire to “be the instigator of new ideas....to turn people on to new things and new perspectives...to be that sort of catalytic kind of thing.“ He described rock music as a medium through which he could achieve this impact and speculated that he would move from using rock in this way to becoming a medium himself, saying, “hopefully that'll happen one day...that's really why I do it...to become a medium.”
This paper takes Bowie's characteristically self-aware and oblique statement as a starting point for an exploration of his extraordinary creative impact and cultural status. Sharing insights gained during the making of David Bowie is at the V&A, it will explain how the exhibition was devised to perpetuate the catalytic and inspirational power of Bowie's art, style and music.
Below is an extract of Kathryn Johnson's Bowie Symposium Keynote Presentation.
Robert Forster, Australian singer-songwriter and co-founder of The Go-Betweens, was in conversation with Michael Dwyer for a session entitled, Bowie in the Seventies: Haircuts & Music.
Every change that David Bowie makes comes with a new haircut. The boy can't help it. As the seventies was his greatest decade as a songwriter and musician, so we marvel at his hair at that time. From Bowie's first steps into the music business in the mid-sixties, he was a keen student of rock history and the supreme importance of an artist's image. Each of his hairstyles from that time on alerted the public to where he was musically.
Robert Forster will guide us, and plot the Bowie seventies journey from the hippy locks of The Man Who Sold The World, to the famous Ziggy cut and album, to the coiffured soul-boy of Young Americans, through to the dramatic renunciation of image that Bowie's return to his natural hair colour and style for the fabled ‘Berlin Trilogy’ of albums represented.
Below is an extract of Robert Forster in conversation with Michael Dwyer.
The complete version of each video is available in our the Australian Mediatheque.
David Bowie is runs until 1 November.comments powered by Disqus