David Bowie's death 2 years ago was a seismic moment in music and culture, but in his New York City neighborhood, it was a deeply personal loss. Having made Manhattan his home for the last 2 decades of his life, Bowie, an Englishman, was amongst those outlandishly famous people who managed to somehow walk the streets of this American city freely, sans bodyguards and disguises, participating in the downtown pleasures available to ordinary New Yorkers—the uneven cobblestone streets of Soho and the wide open vistas of Washington Square Park—while, no doubt, rueing its less scintillating indignities—like perennially dirty, jam-packed subway stops.
Which is precisely what makes
David Bowie is Here, an inspired, intimate underground installation at Bowie's once frequented subway stop, a soulful piece of ephemeral art. As most Manhattanites know, the real David Bowie event is happening in Brooklyn. There, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art,
David Bowie Is, a major retrospective composed of archival material—personal objects, costumes, handwritten lyrics, music videos—organized by London's V&A Museum, is shaping up to be New York's cultural event of the year, never mind the season. At the Broadway-Lafayette subway stop, though, the David Bowie being feted isn't the global superstar, born and raised across the Atlantic, currently being lavishly celebrated across the East River. Here, underground and across grimy walls and worn turnstiles, resides the local David Bowie, the downtown New Yorker, who chose to live—and die—in an apartment around the block.
Steel beams in the Broadway-Lafayette NYC subway station, bearing the image of David Bowie, part of the installation, David Bowie is Here.