❚ “CALLING ALL MISFITS, ANDROGYNES, glam rockers, goblin kings, scary monsters and super creeps: you are invited to a gathering on the steps of the V&A on the last day of the Bowie exhibition, 11 August. Together we will create a tableau vivant.” This call to arms by an ad hoc faction calling itself Occupy Bowie posted a tortuous Tumblr page that dared to translate this difficult French phrase as a “living picture” and illustrated several examples from a long tradition blah blah of motionless, silent models in poses plastiques blah blah often theatrically lit blah blah.
Another page at Facebook declared: “In honour of music, art and David Bowie, it will be a spectacle. It is a participatory event for visual extremists of all stripes. Don’t call us a flash mob.”
As it happens, this tribal turnout by a few dozen fans yesterday afternoon proved to be less a flash mob, more a naff huddle. There was a singalong to Rebel Rebel, but no truly glam Bowie persona in sight, what with the low-rent mimes and the generally jumble-sale approach to costume topped with nylon wigs that could have come from Ridley Road Market. By midnight we could count only three photographs of this act of mass homage posted online, then a couple more today.
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As it happens, Andy Polaris, who lives in East London, claims he was “passing by” the V&A in West London at 3pm and snapped the faithful engaged in their mystical rites. His verdict: “It looked more Freddie Starrdust than Ziggy Stardust.” This referred to the shabby Earthling playing guitar who is known as The Bowie Experience, a professional tribute impersonator wearing the least glam costume of any Bowie incarnation. Polaris said: “The women looked a lot better than the men and the girl with the dark hair and Aladdin streak was the best.” Funny, that. Even the apparent ringleaders themselves, University of the Arts types subtly disguised on Facebook as Occu PyBowie, let the side down in scruffy old jeans. They’d never have let each other get away with that in 1973, let alone the Blitz in 1980.
Brilliant sunshine put paid to any “theatrical lighting” to compare with the photographs of Ryan Schude or the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects Ball, 1931, that Occupy Bowie had cited as inspiration on that ambitious Tumblr page. Better luck at the exhibition’s Toronto opening in September, lads.