Bowie gets his Geek On

bowie trinity college tanja stark
The world’s first academic symposium on David Bowie as pop cultural phenomenon rocked into Ireland last month with international professors and PhDs galore deconstructing Bowie’s prolific influence across music, fashion and the arts with just the perfect mix of sincerity and glam. 
Hosted by Doctors Devereux, Dillane and Power of University of Limerick’s Sociology Department, with participants such as Kathryn Johnson, co curator of the V&A Museum’s much anticipated Bowie retrospective, Undertones Paul McCloone and Bowie’s former RCA publicist Chris Charlesworth, the conference was never going to be your typical scholars meet.
The papers didn’t disappoint.  From sessions seeking to locate Bowie’s oeuvre in relation to Baudrillard, Eliot, Freud, Buddha and Barrett, to fashion historian Helene Thian on how Ziggy Stardust’s flamboyant Yamamoto jumpsuits planted the seeds of Japanism in the Western fashion world, there was something for the most cerebral, and aesthetic, of Bowie fans.
As well as sound, there was also vision, with Australian artist Tanja Stark, who creates highly sought after Bowie Pop Art Mannequins, also curating the exhibition “Because You’re Young: The Pop Ephemera of a Teenage Bowie Fan” drawn from the childhood collection of Dubliner Emily Abrahamson, sister of Director Lenny Abrahamson, and hung alongside striking limited edition self portraits by Bowie himself.   With Stark’s artist talk describing Major Tom’s trajectory “…like a perpetually incomplete rapture, neither worldly or heavenly, but some purgatorally cursed space in between”, there were also lashings of theology to be had.
Similar to a previous symposium on Morrissey hosted by the Pop Culture Doctors at University of Limerick, if you missed this one, the papers are likely to be enshrined in a forthcoming academic tome that one suspects will have ‘to cram so many things to fit everything in there’.
A full synopsis and links to all the papers can be found via the David Bowie Symposium, University of Limerick, Ireland Facebook page



2015 Update: The worlds first textbook on Bowie drawn from symposium papers presented in Ireland 2012.

A second international symposium in Australia, held in July 2015, launched another collection of academic perspectives in textbook form “Enchanting David Bowie”.
The collection featured yet another curious paper,  Confronting Bowie’s Mysterious Corpses, by Australian Artist Tanja Stark that seems to foreshadow Bowie’s death six months later.



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