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Story by Andy Argyrakis and Kathryn Randall
Though this is the very first display of its kind to ever land in America, the collection was originally organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London prior to visiting Ontario, Sao Paulo and Berlin. The results found fans of all ages and countless countries flocking for a glimpse at 400 artifacts spanning Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, The Berlin Era, 1980s superstardom and beyond, encapsulating the many album, movie and concert concepts that accompanied each distinct period.
Considering the 67-year-old Bowie's essentially sworn off touring (even after randomly releasing the comeback collection "The Next Day" last year), seeing Ziggy's actual jumpsuit, the original artist rendering of the "Aladdin Sane" sleeve, the script from "The Man Who Fell To Earth," a self-portrait based off the "Heroes" cover, the infamous loincloth wore during "The Elephant Man" and the Union Jack coat that adorned "Earthling" may be the closest faithful ever get to his greatness.
While there's at least a couple hours worth of material to browse, this tribute wouldn't be complete without plenty of music and video supplementation, which is treated with just as much reverence as the artifacts. Fans are not only given headphones, but also a guidePORT receiver that allows them to personally hear the songs and any accompanying dialogue as they roam with crystal clarity courtesy Germany's esteemed production company Sennheiser. The cutting edge sound technology culminates with a final room stocked from floor to ceiling with performance footage (also bathed in a 3D upmix algorithm) that can only be heard firsthand to be believed.
If there's any lesson to be learned from "David Bowie Is" (especially for younger visitors who weren't able to experience his pioneering presence first hand), it's the fact that this otherworldly chameleon seamlessly interconnected music with art, fashion, counter culture and pop culture. All the while, he wasn't just a timely trendsetter, but a timeless barometer by which innovation continues to be measured and there's endless evidence on display right here in Chicago, from his alien-like incarnation through the 140 million albums sold over the last 50 years.
"David Bowie Is" runs various dates and times at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from September 23, 2014 through January 4, 2015 prior to visiting Paris and the Netherlands. For additional details on the exhibition and Bowie-themed talks, events and performances visit www.mcachicago.org. The corresponding "David Bowie Is" documentary film chronicling the exhibition launches on September 23 at 100 movie theatres across America (with other countries and dates to be announced). For additional details and a list of locations visit www.davidbowie.com/davidbowieisfilm.
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