Image of Bowie with Kansai Yamamoto and Yacco ©Sukita


Live Online Talk David Bowie’s Kabuki Spirit

Live Online Lecture: Basara: David Bowie’s Kabuki Spirit 

Bold, brash and flamboyant, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era performance incorporated many elements from kabuki. However, Bowie’s admiration of this form of Japanese theatre was not necessarily and early example of cultural appropriation. Rather, he learned from, and worked closely with Japanese creatives such as kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando V, stylist Yasuko Takahashi and designer Kansai Yamamoto, the latter describing their relationship as something that ‘went beyond nationalities, beyond gender’. This talk will explore Bowie’s relationship with Japanese culture, focusing on kabuki, and how he embodied the aesthetic of basara - transgressive extravagance. 

Josephine Rout, Curator of Japanese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum 

Josephine Rout is a Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum where she looks after the Japanese collections of Meiji, Modern and Contemporary Fashion, Design and Metalwork. She is a graduate of the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the Royal College of Art, London. At the V&A, she was Assistant Curator for the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art refurbishment, curated the Friday Late Neo Nipponica and was Project Curator of the exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. Her first book, Japanese Dress in Detail (2020), is shortlisted for the 2021 Association of Dress Historians Book of the Year Award.

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