Shelton Waldrep acknowledges in his 2015 book Future Nostalgia: Performing David Bowie, “As Bowie, [David] Jones has long performed himself performing an alter ego who himself frequently performs as someone else” (pp.1). David Bowie built a performance identity that wasn’t solely concerned with his own, singular identity of David Jones. Rather, David Bowie is an amalgamation of art movements, performative concepts, and identities, brought together to form what public audiences view as David Bowie, the artist. While David Bowie was influenced by a wide variety of sources, the one individual he never brought out was David Jones.
Moonage Daydream, Brett Morgen’s 2022 documentary, illustrates a mediated perspective on an artist who was himself derived from pastiche. Moonage Daydream is a documentary in which Morgen had full, unfiltered access to the personal archive of the Bowie estate. In their review of the film, Variety reported that this Bowie archive consisted of over 5 million different items, illustrating that this documentary had access to not just Bowie’s music and masters archive, but to his paintings, sculptures, photography, film, essentially anything and everything from the collector, not just musician, that was Bowie (Gleiberman, 2022). Within this archive is a plethora of interviews with Bowie, where he acknowledges his influences and experiences, and how these speak more to his identity than he can himself. As Bowie acknowledges throughout Moonage Daydream, his performative nature is that of a collector’s canvas.
Popular memory of David Bowie, as discussed by the artist himself in Moonage Daydream, is about the pastiche of identities and performances he has experienced. While these mediated depictions reflect a stance of current popular memory of David Bowie, we can use these examples to illustrate how portraying this collector requires a space of pastiche identity, one that isn’t confined to specific spaces of identity, but rather one that is free to oscillate, change, and transform.
Gleiberman, O. (2022, May 25). Moonage Daydream Review: Brett Morgen’s Kaleidoscopic
Head-Trip Meditation on Who David Bowie Was. Variety.
Waldrep, S. (2015). Future Nostalgia: Performing David Bowie. Bloomsbury Academic.