David Bowie is… at the V&A
14th May 2013
Unusual Rigging has provided a comprehensive and imaginative rigging solution for the lighting, sound, AV and scenic elements of the spectacular David Bowie is… exhibition at London’s V&A museum.
Over 300 objects have been brought together for the first time by the V&A’s Theatre and Performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, and arranged across two exhibition galleries. Exhibits include many of Bowie’s original costumes, music videos, excerpts from films and live performances and set designs.
Unusual Rigging’s brief from the exhibition designers, 59 Productions and Real Studios, along with lighting designers DHA Designs, included some very subtle rigging requirements for the many flown scenic elements and projection surfaces, scrims, screens and aerial booths involved.
One major exhibit required Unusual to facilitate approximately 100 books swarming in formation around an ‘Aladdin Sane’ clad mannequin as if ‘conducting’ them in a cloud of inspiration. A series of suspended projection boxes appear to erupt from the scene around it, onto which are projected further subjects to influence Bowie, including footage of Buñuel and Dali’s Le Chien Andalou and stills of people as diverse as Marc Bolan, Aleister Crowley, Buster Keaton and Katheryn Hepburn.
“Our brief was to suspend the books and projection boxes as unobtrusively as possible,” says Unusual Technical Director, Robin Elias. “The books are by authors and beat poets such as Ballard, Warhol and Kerouac and represent those that Bowie carried with him for inspiration while on tour.” Each book had to be suspended opened out and with the front and back covers clearly readable by the visitors below. Elias continues: “We designed a series of thin wires and acrylic mounts, creating a generic solution to fine tune the position of every book. Aside from that we were given complete artistic licence so I can truthfully say I am exhibiting at the V&A as the rigging is all my own work!”
Turnaround time for the installation was very brief, with only four days for Unusual to dismantle the rigging from the previous Hollywood Costume exhibition and install the Bowie infrastructure. “Because time was so short, I designed a grid that we could rig early on in the set and which would enable us to rig the books at a later stage,” says Elias.
Phil Wooderson of specialist fit-out contractor, The Hub, said “It was an absolutely pleasure to work with Unusual Rigging on this project. We have worked with Unusual on many projects including the Hollywood Costume exhibition. We can always rely on them to come up with an ingenious solution to any challenge and the end result is spectacular.”
“It was an absolutely pleasure to work with Unusual Rigging on this project. We have worked with Unusual on many projects including the Hollywood Costume exhibition. We can always rely on them to come up with an ingenious solution to any challenge and the end result is spectacular.”
Phil Wooderson, The Hub
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