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A man dressed like david bowie giving a lecture in a dark hall
Professor Will Brooker

The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie

Australian Mediatheque

From Sep

In this program of talks, Dr Kathryn Johnson shares insights gained during the making of David Bowie is at the V&A, and explains how the exhibition was devised to perpetuate the catalytic and inspirational power of Bowie's art, style and music.

Professor Will Brooker poses the question: "How do we make sense of the various characters, stories, cultural echoes and cross-references in the work of David Bowie?"; and musician Robert Forster, in conversation with Michael Dwyer, talks about the fact that every change David Bowie makes comes with a new haircut!

In addition to these three keynote talks from the symposium held at ACMI 17-18 July 2015 The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie is an interview with the man himself by ABC TV Countdown's Molly Meldrum in 1978.

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  • David Bowie is becoming a Medium
    Keynote presentation by Dr Kathryn Johnson
    2015, 39mins, ACMI

    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 talk 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 explains how the exhibition was devised to perpetuate the catalytic and inspirational power of Bowie's art, style and music. Presented by Dr Kathryn Johnson, Assistant Curator for the 'David Bowie is' Exhibition from the V&A Museum.

    Haircuts and Music: Robert Forster in conversation with Michael Dwyer
    2015, 29mins, ACMI

    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.

    Time Again: narrative, history and identity in the work of David Bowie
    Keynote Presentation by Professor Will Brooker
    2015, 48mins, ACMI

    "How do we make sense of the various characters, stories, cultural echoes and cross-references in the work of David Bowie?" Professor Will Brooker delivers his Keynote presentation at The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie symposium held at ACMI in July 2015 during the David Bowie is exhibition.

    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 talk 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.

    [Bowie interview with Molly Meldrum 1978]
    1978, 5mins, ABC-TV

    On 10th November, 1978, 'Countdown' host Molly Meldrum interviewed David Bowie on a tennis court at the Hordern Pavillion in Sydney. In a playful mood, Bowie recounts how he worked with John Lennon to create his hit song ‘Fame’.

    Molly asks: "Have you used the world as your stage do you think?"

    Mr Bowie answers: "...straight forward theatre with music, it wasn't that innovative, except that it hadn't been used in rock and roll before.."

    (This interview is only available until the end of December 2015.)