David Bowie Performance Art

David Bowie Death: A Performance Art Genius Until The End [Videos, Photos]

The death of David Bowie has showed us all one thing: David Bowie was a performance art genius until the end. While David Bowie’s death hit the public as a surprise since no one knew of his private 18-month battle with cancer, David Bowie kept up a persona of health and vitality until the end. When one thinks of someone fighting cancer, we tend to think of a person ravaged by the disease until they simply succumb to its devastation. Right now, country artist Joey Feek is facing death due to cancer and is in hospice care. Her husband has been by her side, sharing public post after post regarding her final days. As she continues to fight, the world views Joey Feek as frail, vulnerable, and soon to succumb to cancer. This was not the image the public was given of David Bowie. Exactly what his final moments in private were will most likely remain private unless his wife of 25 years Iman chooses to disclose those personal and tender moments. What David Bowie presented to the public was that of a true performing arts genius. In fact, it might be said that no other person in history has orchestrated such a commanding farewell as David Bowie.

No one, except for David Bowie’s close inner circle, knows what David Bowie went through when he received a cancer diagnosis. The public has no idea what type of cancer he was afflicted with, if he endured grueling chemotherapy sessions, or even tried alternative healing treatments. What we do know is that David Bowie continued to write music, released the album Blackstar just two days before his death, wrote a musical, and starred in music videos all while dealing with his own private hell. It is not the typical way artists choose to deal with the public or their fans when they know they are sick. Many celebrities and artists share their personal health struggles. Kim Kardashian, for instance, shared just about every detail with her pregnancy on Twitter. The public knew which way her baby was positioned, her fears of having a breech birth, and the treatment she underwent to get her baby “turnt.” We have a view into Joey Feek’s last days as well. We’ve been updated on what may be her final holiday with her loved ones and continue to receive updates on her condition. With David Bowie, no one knew he was even sick, let alone nearing the end of his days. All the public knew was that the pop rock genius had released another album Blackstar and it was earning critical acclaim and reviews. We also heard that Michael C. Hall Dexter was starring in David Bowie’s musical Lazarus and was singing the lead song on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

As Michael C. Hall continues to perform in the New York Theater’s Workshop musical Lazarus, one must only wonder what will be going through his mind. Does Michael C. Hall feel as if he were cast in the midst of the greatest performance art project ever to exist?

What will Michael C. Hall feel when he sings the lyrics, “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” Will he have to fight back tears of mourning and grief knowing that the man who wrote those words, giving him this opportunity at live art is literally looking down on him from above?

If you think that this was coincidence or that David Bowie just happened to write a song about Lazarus, a Biblical story of the man whom Jesus Christ raised from the dead without any meaning behind the timing of his death, I’d suggest thinking again. David Bowie creates characters, that’s what he does. He created Space Oddity from pop culture and movies, even creating the Major Tom character that has surfaced in numerous songs and even appears in the “Lazarus” video with Michael C. Hall and on Blackstar.

Some of David Bowie’s fans are expressing great remorse; not only at David Bowie’s death, but that he chose not to prepare them by letting them know his personal, medical issues. There are comments flooding David Bowie’s videos on YouTube saying they simply were not prepared for his death.

Could it be that what David Bowie did was the greatest performance art piece of all time? By releasing Blackstar, we see lyrics that tell the story of death and leaving this earth to find freedom. We have the Lazarus musical, which essentially tells the story of death and rebirth. While Michael C. Hall may have entered into the role unaware of David Bowie’s condition, how will it not be the greatest tribute of all time?

David Bowie did not go quietly into his final goodnight. He went out with a new album, a musical, and videos that are so wrought with raw emotion they are propelling fans to break down and cry. He left his fans the only way he truly could, through his music and his art. He lived his life to give and create music and he created music until the very end, even until his death.

There is no question that Blackstar will not only claim the top spot on the charts, but will most likely remain there for weeks and maybe months. Not because it is that good (even though Blackstar is that good) but it is the merging of life and death, of art mimicking life mimicking art that makes Blackstar one of the greatest albums of all time.

David Bowie’s said farewell to his fans, not in the way many celebrities do, but the way a true performance artist does.

He orchestrated his final album and videos in a way, in his way, that says good-bye, knowing his death would be soon.

There is no question that the world has lost one of its greatest artists on Jan. 10, 2016. David Bowie will truly be missed. But the way he orchestrated his final album, videos and musical to coincide with his death was pure genius.

How have you responded to David Bowie’s death? Are you feeling the deep grief that many fans are experiencing and sharing? Did his death come as a surprise to you?

[AP/Photo Jacques Brinon]