Sharing an elevator with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Rönkkö #Elevate

Sharing an elevator with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Rönkkö #Elevate

Last Friday began like any other. I was preparing for a weekend trip to London that afternoon, so got my bags packed, did some work and reading, took a book from the library. Totally normal. Except, me and my housemate decided that we would check out what Shia LaBeouf was up to in Oxford. Yes, Shia LaBeouf was on Oxford (!) Pause for a moment whilst I stop squealing.

So for those who not familiar, the Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf has brought his focus to the world of performance art, and has done some many interesting things in the past. He is part of a trio which includes Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, making them ‘LaBeouf, Turner, Rönkkö’. One of the last things they did was occupy a gallery room in Liverpool’s FACT, answering the public’s calls in an attempt to ‘touch their soul’. I tried calling 200 times to no avail. So when I heard that the trio were going to be occupying a lift in the centre of Oxford for 24 hours, I had to take my chance. However, what I hadn’t realised was that the wait would take hours. 4-5 hours to be precise.

Naive me turned up with my housemate at 10.30 am, expecting to be finished by 12 pm at the latest, to then go on and continue our day. How wrong we were. 2.30pm, and we were still in the queue. With the anxiety of already waiting so long, and for it to be just a waste of time, we decided we would stick it out. Although every hour we ended up saying that we would only wait another 30 mins then we were leaving. So by 4pm we were finally in. For 20 minutes we occupied a life with Shia LaBeouf and co. After standing in the queue for what felt like a life time,  we had prepared and thought over and over about what we would talk about. It was going to be insightful, philosophical, we’d have them in stitches! No. No we didn’t. As soon as I greeted the trio and the doors closed in the elevator, the realisation hit me. We were here. With this Hollywood actor. I had grown up watching Shia in Even Stevens the TV show, and to be standing next to him, eating his pizza that he offered up was beyond surreal. My mind went numb, and I completely forgot all the things I had said I would talk about. It was awkward. There were silences. There were hummings and nervous shifting around on the spot. Thank goodness for my housemate Geoff and our new friend Joey (who we had the pleasure of queuing up with) – they came out with some interesting questions, which in turn stopped me from my verbal diarrhoea.

Even though I found it slightly awkward, I thought that it was definitely an interesting experience. I mean, how often do you get the chance to be in an elevator with Shia LaBeouf!?  I guess you’re probably reading this and thinking how the hell this was ‘art’. Well, the trio explained that the whole purpose of situating themselves for 24 hours within this tiny elevator (which only went up 2 floors) was a way of connecting with people. Having been asked to give a talk at the Oxford Union, the art trio thought it would be a more interesting and intimate experience to be able to offer people the chance of spending quality time with them, rather than just listen to them in the hall.  And it definitely was intimate, although somewhat contrived, which I felt took away from the experience.

But hey, like I said, how often do you get the chance to rub shoulders (literally!) with a Hollywood Actor? One thing that I did feel uncomfortable about was the fact that I bet (myself included), most people were actually there just to meet Shia. What about Luke and Nastja? How did they find the prospect of this? Is it just part of the whole experience? I guess having a famous actor as part of your art performance helps bring attention, but I wondered if they felt a little disregarded during the whole process. Yes, these are the many questions I thought about before meeting and after, yet didn’t ask them! Alas. So, what are your thoughts about the performance piece? Thought-provoking and intimate, or just pretentious?

Check the video out around 6 hours 48 mins!

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University #Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University #Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

The Impressionist’s heaven: Claude Monet’s Gardens in Giverny

The Impressionist’s heaven: Claude Monet’s Gardens in Giverny

Not too long ago, I finally experienced something that I have been longing to see since I can remember. That was taking a trip to explore Monet’s gardens for the first time. It seems to be a cliché as an Art Historian to say that you love the Impressionists – but I really do! There’s something about their work, especially Monet’s, dreaminess and visionary paintings that captivates the viewers. When looking at their work, I could stand for hours staring at the various colours, watching them wash and merge into one another as you move your gaze around the surface.

It was here in Giverny where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. Living in a delightfully sweet house, Monet transformed his gardens into an amazing landscape of beauty – an ode to nature.

“It’s maybe because of flowers that I’ve become a painter.” Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)

Monet’s gardens are divided into two separate areas – the Close-Normand and the Water Garden. Starting at the Close-Normand, which was remodeled according to the original design, the garden is made of winding paths with a variety of beautiful flowers wherever you go. The sheer amount of flowers is overwhelming – in the good sense! Everywhere you look there seems to be a different species, and of course you don’t want to miss a thing. The amazing array of colours within the garden reflects the work of Monet, and walking around the Close-Normand, one feels as if they have entered one of his paintings.

A descent through an under-ground path takes you to the infamous landscape that was the inspiration of Monet’s Water Lilies collection. Purchased in 1893, Monet transformed this land into a heaven – and into the ‘Jardin d’eau’ (Water Garden). This garden reflects Monet’s interest in Japanese Culture, with its own Japanese bridges and oriental plants, including magnificent Weeping Willows surrounding the pond. In contrast to the traditional red bridges of Japan, Monet’s were painted green – as if to blend into the landscape of the garden.

Having seen many of Monet’s Water-Lilly paintings in person all over the world, it was a surreal experience to finally be able to come to the place which ignited his inspiration for those works. Having spent time wandering around the Water Garden, it was easy to see how Monet was so inspired and devoted to this garden.

Monet once wrote of the gardens: “The overall effect is endlessly varied. Not just from one season to the next, but from one minute to the next… the heart of everything is the reflecting mirror of the water, whose appearance fluctuates endlessly according as it catches the teeming life and movement of the every-changing sky. A passing cloud, a freshening breeze, a squall that looms then strikes, the gale that comes without warning, the light that fades then intensifies anew – all these things transform the color and texture [of art].”

I felt that I experienced this when visiting the gardens, as every view created a different vision, with the reflections of the water changing and the slight breeze moving the plants.

As well as exploring the gardens, you can also head inside the house itself. Recently renovated in the style of Monet’s original décor, it’s interesting to be able to attempt to picture yourself in his life. In the bedrooms on the second floor, you can gaze out onto the landscape, which I can only imagine being twice as serene without the tourists. I am a little obsessed with the pink exterior of the house – it looks almost as if it could fit in Notting Hill without looking too conspicuous!

Overall, I had an amazing time visiting Claud Monet’s Gardens. It was a beautifully sunny day, with the flowers in full bloom – what more could you ask for? Despite taking around 600 photos, I still don’t feel as if I got enough, or did the stunning landscape any justice!

Advice for visiting Monet’s Gardens in Giverny:

  • Pre-book tickets: I had pre-booked my tickets online – which included no a fixed date, meaning that I had a lot of flexibility for when I decided to go. When I arrived at the Museum, despite it being early in the morning, there was already a big queue. But with my pre-booked ticket I was able to skip all of this and enter extremely quickly!
  • Getting there: Take a train from Saint-Lazare in Paris to Gare Vernon, which takes around 45 – 50 minutes. From there, either take the shuttle bus or hire bikes (or walk!). If a nice day, I would recommend hiring bikes – you cycle along a beautiful cycle path, and get to experience the cute town of Giverny.

You can see all the photos that I took during my visit to Monet’s Gardens here.

Anish Kapoor exposition at the Palace of Versailles

Anish Kapoor exposition at the Palace of Versailles

This summer, visitors to the Palace of Versailles Gardens are welcomed with a nice surprise. Located around the estate are the works of English sculptor, Anish Kapoor, which will be there until 1st November 2015.

Known for his world-famous sculptures including the Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park (also known as ‘the Bean’) and the 2012 London Olympics observation tower, ArvelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park, there is something very interactive and interesting about Kapoor’s work. I, myself, have been fortunate to have seen many of his works in person prior to seeing them scattered around the royal gardens of Versailles.

Since June 9th, the Palace of Versailles has opened its grounds to some of Kapoor’s well-known works. The six sculptures on display around the estate create an interesting and complex dialogue with the pristine order of the gardens, in which Kapoor aims to “upset the balance and invite chaos in”, which I believe he has certainly achieved.

As previously mentioned, Kapoor’s works are extremely interactive, using the viewer to bring the artwork to life. The captivating sculptures on display enable viewers to explore a variety of dualities, engaging with the different boundaries of the present and past Versailles.

On first glance, Kapoor’s ultra-modern sculptures do look somewhat out of place, but on closer inspection and interaction, perhaps they work better than first anticipated within the environment of the Palace of Versailles.

Two of the most interactive sculptures on exhibit are located closest to the Chateau on the terrace. Sky Mirror (2013) immediately confronts visitors at the top of the terrace. Raised up towards the sky, the reflective surface of the sculpture invites viewers to see the landscape and Palace of Versailles from new angles. When I first saw Sky Mirror I actually thought it was a giant SKY dish!

Located adjacent and within closer proximity to the Palace is C-Curve (2007). The reflective surface of C-Curve turns the environment of Versailles on its head – literally making everything upside down. Thus forcing the viewer to redefine their place within this landscape.

One of the things that I will always think in conjunction with any visit to the Palace of Versailles is tourists – and more importantly, photos. When walking around the Palace and grounds, the amount of people (myself included of course) taking photos and rarely standing to appreciate the sights in view, are extremely high as one can imagine. Therefore, Kapoor and the curators have done something very clever with choosing these two sculptures to be placed on the terrace. The interactive and reflective nature of the sculptures not only bring into focus the surrounding environment of the Palace, but invite visitors in to explore their own relationship within these thresholds.

Another interesting work on display that has received little treatment, is a giant man-made whirlpool located adjacent to the Grand Canal. Titled as Descension (2015), this synthetic whirlpool disrupts the tranquility and composure of the gardens, enticing viewers into this mesmerizing violent vortex.

However, the main attraction of the exhibition – both in sizing and press-coverage – is the enormous Dirty Corner (2011), located between the Grand Canal and the Palace. A vast steel funnel that rises from scattered stone, as if emerging and ripping up from the ground, Dirty Corner has become one of the main focal pieces of the exhibition. According to Kapoor, Dirty Corner symbolizes ‘the vagina of the queen who is taking power’, but which Queen is that exactly? Well, that is left up for debate. Evidently this work has been placed with much thought and deliberation, facing towards the Palace wherein the massive funnel opens towards the Chateau.

Controversy concerning Dirty Corner did not stop at the various symbolic meanings behind the work. The work came under fire of vandals who attacked the sculpture with yellow spray paint. Having come under scrutiny, Dirty Corner has caused some disapproval within different political parties of France. Kapoor recently stated that political violence and artistic violence are not the same, and therefore should not be treated with the same connotations. Whereas Kapoor’s artwork “follows a long tradition of regeneration” advancing “the language of art”, the use of vandalism in the name of politics merely “seeks erasure” with the “aim of the removal of the offending idea, person, practice or thing.” With the sculpture cleaned up, the mere act of vandalism serves to show for Kapoor that “simplistic political viewers are offended by the untidiness of art.”

However, I cannot but help think that this act of vandalism brings back those notions so ardently protested back in the wake of Charlie Hebdo – surely this was an act on freedom of expression?

Dirty Corner has certainly caused a stir in the art world, and within the life of the Palace of Versailles. The debate concerning the said ‘Queen’ who Dirty Corner represents is up for discussion. What is interesting is the dialogue in which Dirty Corner creates within the Palace and the surrounding gardens.

Notwithstanding all the different messages and interpretations produced by the sculptures, I really enjoyed walking around the grounds and seeing Kapoor’s sculptures on show. The interactive nature of the works invites viewers to engage with the sculptress, and create an interesting addition to the controlled environment of the Palace of Versailles. Whether you’re coming for a picnic in the gardens or to explore the Chateau itself, I definitely recommend wandering around the gardens to see these works for yourself. Don’t forget to ask yourself whether Dirty Corner is as controversial as the press makes out – I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

The Anish Kapoor at the Palace of Versailles exhibition closes 1st November 2015.

You can find more information about the exhibition here on the Chateau de Versailles website.

 

Sky Mirror (2013), Anish Kapoor

C-Curve (2007), Anish Kapoor

Dirty Corner (2011), Anish Kapoor

Descension (2015), Anish Kapoor

Exhibition Review: ‘Lumières, The Play of Brilliants’ exposition, Éléphant Paname

Exhibition Review: ‘Lumières, The Play of Brilliants’ exposition, Éléphant Paname

6th March – 31st May 2015

After handing over our tickets to be verified, the steward pointed us in the direction of an entrance. Upon entering, our senses were immediately struck with the darkness of the interior. The lights were low, the room was empty of people, and we were confronted with a circular floor-to-ceiling installation. However, this is not just any normal installation. Utilising both water and light in a captivating way, DGT’s (Dorell, Ghotmeh, Take) Light in Water is a magical sight. It actually takes a couple of seconds to register what is occurring in this otherworldly spectacle. Falling from the ceiling is a cascading waterfall, which is illuminated with the continual changing strength of lights, creating an ethereal experience for the viewer. Intensifying the experience further, visitors can walk into the very centre of the installation, becoming one with the piece. The exquisite combination of light and water makes the water droplets seem light graceful falling diamonds. Opening the exhibition, DGT’s Light in Water truly sets the tone for the rest of the show, creating a continual enigmatic atmosphere which is maintained throughout the upcoming works.

Welcome to ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ exposition at the Eléphant Paname. Arranged throughout various rooms of the building, beginning with DGT’s Light in Water one continues the journey by ascending upwards through the building.

This is an exposition all about sensory experience, and the ways in which one can encounter and participate in the perception of the works on display. On show are eleven different light installations, varying from size, medium and meaning.

DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), 'Light in water'
DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), ‘Light in water’
DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), 'Light in water'
DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), ‘Light in water’
Soo Sunny Park, 'Unwoven Light'
Soo Sunny Park, ‘Unwoven Light’

Another incredible work worth mentioning in depth is Soo Sunny Park’s mystical installation, Unwoven Light. Suspended from the ceiling, Unwoven Light is an enormous sculpture composed of reflective diamonds made from dichroic Plexiglas of varying colours and transparency. Similar to DGT’s Light in Water, and of course the other installations on display, Unwoven Light is a truly sensory experience. The wave-like sculpture manipulates the light in the room, to reflect and refract the light in a multitude of incredible ways. Reverberating off the walls are a plethora of multi-coloured and rainbow-like illuminations, transforming the whole room into a jewel. Unquestionably, this is a very poignant and sensory installation, with every viewer’s encounter different. The ethereal quality of the work certainly confirms Soo Sunny Park’s ultimate object of the piece:

“We don’t notice light when looking so much as we notice the things light allows us to see. Unwoven Light captures light and causes it to reveal itself, through colorful reflections and refractions on the installation’s surfaces and on the gallery floor and walls.”

Soo Sunny Park, 'Unwoven Light'
Soo Sunny Park, ‘Unwoven Light’
Soo Sunny Park, 'Unwoven Light'
Soo Sunny Park, ‘Unwoven Light’
Flynn Talbot, 'Primary'
Flynn Talbot, ‘Primary’

 

In the adjacent room, visitors are presented with Flynn Talbot’s sculpture, Primary. Installed onto the back wall, the viewer is presented with the work face on. At first glance, Primary looks as if a two-dimensional work that creates the illusion of being a three-dimensional piece. However, on further inspection, Primary is actually constructed with protruding projections, 121 spikes to be correct.

However, this piece is not only about light. For Talbot, one of the main intentions of the work was to explore the ways in which we experience colour through light. Projecting primary colours, which are then lit via different sources of LED lights; red, blue and green all blend to create different combinations. As Talbot states, “Colour in light is different to paint for example… the wall sculpture is designed to break up the light and explore the mixing of colour.”

Flynn Talbot’s Primary is ultimately a work wherein light and the object are inherent to one another, working in unison to provide an engaging visual experience. Continuously transforming into a variety of colours, there is something mesmerising and hypnotic about Primary.

Flynn Talbot, 'Primary'
Flynn Talbot, ‘Primary’
Flynn Talbot, 'Primary'
Flynn Talbot, ‘Primary’

Overall, Eléphant Paname’s ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ exposition is intended to make the viewer engage with the various installations on show. With the aim of stimulating the senses, ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ is a brilliant exhibition that shows the blurring of the boundaries between art and technology, but also the material qualities of the work and the immaterial nature of light.

You can see more of the photos that I took whilst at the ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ exhibition here over my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157649247395563/

For more information about the exposition, click here: http://www.elephantpaname.com/fr/programmation/lumieres

Exhibition Review: Jeff Koons Retrospective, Centre Pompidou

Exhibition Review: Jeff Koons Retrospective, Centre Pompidou

Following the box-office success at the Whitney Museum in New York, the Jeff Koons Retrospective made its way to the Centre Pompidou this November. However, with the success in the box office, came a myriad of reviews – not all positive. The aim of the retrospective is to offer viewers a clear chronology and documentation of the evolution of the controversial artist.

Chronologically arranged, visitors first encounter Koons’ ready-made works, beginning with his collection of vacuum cleaners from around the 1970s. Having previously visited the Centre Pompidou’s previous retrospective exposition of Marcel Duchamp, and which at one point was still open along side the Jeff Koons show, it is clear to see Koons’ influences in the Duchamp. However, the collection of vacuums I felt were arbitury. For Duchamp, such ready-mades were revolutionary, something never encountered before in the History of Art. But for Koons, it feels contrived and merely an attempt to aggrandise himself to the same artistic and originality as Duchamp. This part of the exposition felt almost like entering a museum for household furniture of the past. Having encountered this part of the exposition first, things could only go up from here.

What I did find interesting from the early work of Koons, is his commentary on the world of marketing and advertising with regards to social class. It is in the ‘Luxury and Degradation’ part of the exposition where visitors are offered a glimpse into the political views. Having observed “how the aesthetic and slogans used in various liquor advertisements varied according to the social class they were targeting”, as told in the commentary on the wall, “Koons reprinted a number of these advertisements on canvas in oil-based inks.” It is here that the seriousness of the underlying problem inherent in marketing.

Following this, we are fully merged into the persona of Koons that we all know. Displayed across the room are a number of sculptures, many taken directly from popular culture. This included the infamous Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture of 1988. There is something haunting and actually very disturbing about this sculpture. The dark, lifeless eyes stare out at the viewer. Observing this sculpture for quite some time had me questioning the choice of materiality. The imitation of gold seems to have put Michael Jackson and his monkey on a high pedestal. The aggrandisation I guess pop culture gave the singer. However, for me this is merely piece of grotesque commercialsation. Each to their own. Upon looking at Koons’ sculptures, I did often question myself about the nature of ‘what is art’ and if these sculptures were a testify to such.

It should also be noted that part of the exposition is not suitable for those at least under the age of 18 – this is the Made in Heaven room. Lets just say that some of the things I saw can never be unseen.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Porcelain, 1988, Jeff Koons
Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Porcelain, 1988, Jeff Koons

Not was all lost however. I was surprised however, to encounter some of Koons’ paintings on show in the exposition. Once again, caution should be granted to the identifying Koons as the sole executor of the work, as he had the aid of his studio assistants to paint the works. Despite this, the vibrant, photographic quality and hyper realism of the paintings were wonderful. In fact, many of the objects in the scene resonated with my childhood – from little toy figures, to my personal favourite, Play-Doh.

Although we can criticize all we like regarding the artistic skill and ethics of Jeff Koons’ work, one cannot dispute the fun and lighthearted nature of his works from the 1990’s. This was one specific part of the exposition that I was particularly looking forward to seeing were the intentionally celebrated enormous inflatable sculptures. The exhibition includes Koons’ Celebration series, to which on display are Balloon Dog (Magenta) (1994-2000) and the giant Hanging Heart. Looking at these sculptures, one almost escapes back into childhood, as there is something amusing about them. Despite the kitschness of them, I really quite like them, in an ironic way of course… In 2009, Jeff Koons joined in unison with the Chateau de Versailles, and hosted an exposition within the Chateau itself. Situated in the different rooms and courtyards of the palace, I can only imagine how interesting a juxtaposition this would have created. Therefore, after seeing this big sculptures in the Centre Pompidou, I think I would have preferred to have seen them in different setting.

Hanging Heart, 1994-2006, Jeff Koons
Hanging Heart, 1994-2006, Jeff Koons

 

Concluding the exposition, Koons’ most recent work looks back to the world of antiquity for inspiration. The series titled Gazing Ball, includes cast figures of various famous antique sculptures with gazing balls placed on them. The aim, I guess, of such pieces is to force viewers to question the relationship between art of the past and the present, to enquire about the History of Art in general. However, I could not even allow myself to probe such questions, and to me they are simple an attempt to create something abstract and problematic.

Despite all the negative comments made, I did really enjoy the exposition. What I liked was the experience of seeing these various works, and watching others encounter them also. As many critics have mentioned, there is something very familiar and accessible with Koons’ work, therefore it will come as no surprise that visiting the exposition were many school trips. Situated around all the works on show are invisible alarms, that were going off right left and centre throughout my visit – from people too close to various sculptures to little children wanting to touch them. This just proves the interactive quality of Jeff Koons’ work, which is probably why he has been such a success throughout the world. We are only human after all.

Even though the ‘meaning’ of the work may have been disregarded by myself, Koons’ works are extremely photogenic, and so I took great pleasure from taking many photos of the various works on show. And I certainly wasn’t the only one enjoying the interactive nature of his objects. With the reflective works, many people were actually queuing to be able to take the perfect selfie reflection – although interacting with the artwork, these are surely just acts of narcissism that is in turn represented in Koons’ work? The vain society of today, and the sheer dependency for material, therefore seems to parallel the sculptures of Koons and perhaps his work has more layers than I had first anticipated.

Whether a fan or not, one cannot argue that Jeff Koons has caused quite a stir in the world of art throughout his career, instigating the need to question various important questions about commercialism, the production and the meaning of art in general.

Have you been to the exhibition? If so, let me know what you thought of it! Or perhaps you decided against going to see, which in that case, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Gazing Ball (Ariadne), Plaster and glass, 2013, Jeff Koons
Gazing Ball (Ariadne), Plaster and glass, 2013, Jeff Koons

All the photos that I took during the exhibition are here on my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157651522755319/

To get more information about the exposition, head over to the Centre Pompidou main website: https://www.centrepompidou.fr/cpv/resource/cABRrbG/r4ydaM6

Exhibition Review: ‘David Bowie Is’, exposition Philharmonie de Paris

Exhibition Review: ‘David Bowie Is’, exposition Philharmonie de Paris

Back in 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London hosted an extraordinary exhibition that offered a unique opportunity to delve into the wonderful career of one of music’s greatest legends – David Bowie.

From a personal perspective, I was beyond excited to find out that the V&A David Bowie Is exhibition would be making a stop in Paris for numerous reasons. When the retrospective first opened in London, I was unable to go and see it due to the rapid rate at which the exhibition sold out.

But for those who did not have the opportunity to see the V&A exhibition first hand, also had the chance to be able to ‘virtually visit’ the exhibit via one of the many showings of the exhibition at the cinema. I can probably imagine that you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, but just hold on one second. Due to the sheer popularity of the exhibition, the V&A presented a live screening in the form of David Bowie is Happening Now, which was shown nationwide. Within this, cinemagoers had the chance to ‘walk’ through the exhibition with the curators, and watch behind the scene clips with extra archival footage and interviews being shown. My Mum and I bought tickets immediately, and finally had the chance to be a part of this fantastic retrospective. With this said, you can probably imagine how excited I was to hear that David Bowie Is was making a stop in Paris.

The exhibition begins with the emergence of Bowie as a musician, which then chronological traces his career and transformation. David Bowie Is is interactive and engaging. As visitors walk around the exhibition, moving in and out of the evolution of ‘Bowie’, the music changes in the headsets carried, and as one approaches the various screens throughout the exhibition showing video clips and interviews, the headset also changes. This exhibition is seamless. With a lot of ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – pun intended.

The David Bowie Is retrospective offers visitors a multi-dimensional experience, comprising of over 300 objects. The exhibition includes handwritten lyrics where one can see the processes and drafting of various songs – what is fascinating is seeing the different words and phrases crossed out, changes which certainly would have created very different songs than the ones we know. Also on display are photographs, music videos and album artwork.

Especially interesting are the various sixty original iconic stage costumes on show, including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972), and Alexander McQueen’s Union Jack coat designed for the Earthling album cover (1997). Displayed as if Bowie himself was wearing them, viewing these famous costumes in person is an incredible experience.

Something that really stuck with me after visiting, was finding out that Bowie is actually a really good painter (which may not surprise some of you). I had never really known about this side of the singer, and so it was refreshing to be able to view some of his own artwork on display within the exhibition. Not only was Bowie’s creative side shown in his artwork, but throughout the retrospective his own drawings and illustrations for various music videos, films and even sketches of stage designs for the Ziggy Stardust tour, are on show.

David Bowie Is is not only about the physical manifestation of Bowie’s various personas, but it also offers a glimpse into the process of writing songs and creating lyrics. What I found thought-provoking was Bowie’s contraption called the Verbasizer. A computer application, the Verbasizer brought together different verbs and words that Bowie claimed helped with the process of lyric writing. Having read a lot of critical views regarding this specific part of the exhibition, and indeed Bowie’s creative past, this computer programme is an interesting addition to the enigmatic character of Bowie. Whether you agree or disagree with such method is up to further debate. (You can read a bit more about it here: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/03/ty-roberts-on-the-trail-from-working-with-david-bowie-to-co-founding-gracenote.html)

As one explores the visually stunning and incredible exhibition, the finale brings you into a room surrounded by projections of Bowie with various videos from stage performances. It is almost like being physically at these concerts. (For those unlike my parents who have seen Bowie in concert live, this is the perfect opportunity to imagine what it must have been like.)

Overall, David Bowie Is offers an incredible multi-media and multi-sensory experience, providing a glimpse into the complex artistic and creative transformation of David Bowie. Bowie die-hards and enthusiasts, as well as those on the lesser scale, will undoubtedly enjoy this exhibition.

Venue: Philharmonie de Paris.

Dates: 2nd March – 31st May 2015.

Websitehttp://davidbowieis.philharmoniedeparis.fr

(Photo from Deutsche Welle)
(Photograph taken from the Guardian)