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Who is he now? The unearthly David Bowie
journal contributionposted on 25.10.2013, 00:00 authored by Toija CinqueToija Cinque, Sean RedmondSean Redmond
The question that has led and organised this special edition on David Bowie draws provocative attention to the way his career has been narrated by the constant transformation and recasting of his star image. By asking who is he now? the edition recognises that Bowie is a chameleon figure, one who reinvents himself in and across the media and art platforms that he is found in. This process of renewal means that Bowie constantly kills himself, an artistic suicide that allows for dramatic event moments to populate his music, and for a rebirth to emerge at the same time or shortly after he expires. Bowie has killed Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Halloween Jack, Aladdin Sane, and the Thin White Duke to name but a few of his alter-egos. In this environment of death and resurrection, Bowie becomes a heightened, exaggerated enigma, a figure who constantly seems to be artificial or constructed and yet whose work asks us to look for his real self behind the mask – to ask the question, is this now the real Bowie that faces us? Of course, the answer is always no because Bowie is a contradictory constellation of images, stories and sounds whose star image rests on remaining an enigma, and like all stars in our midst, exists as a representation. Nonetheless, with Bowie - with this hyper- schizophrenic, confessional artist – the fan desire to get to know him, to immerse oneself in his worlds, fantasises, and projections - is particularly acute. With the unexpected release of The Next Day ((Iso/Columbia) on the 8th March 2013, the day of his 66th birthday, Bowie was resurrected again. The album and subsequent music videos drew explicitly on the question of who Bowie was and had been, creating a media frenzy around his past work, fan nostalgia for previous Bowie incarnations, and a pleasurable negotiation with his new output. In this special edition, edited by life-long Bowie fans, with contributions from die-hard Bowie aficionados, we seek to find him in the fragments and remains of what once was, and in the new enchantments of his latest work.