Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive™


Hattie Lloyd 27/02/23

Aladdin Sane: 50 Years

David Bowie was one in a million.

When others zigged, he… Ziggied.

And to celebrate the half-century since the release of Bowie’s chart-topping album Aladdin Sane, the Southbank Centre is staging a series of events surrounding the artist and his legacy.

The centrepiece will be an exhibition of Bowie portraits taken by Brian Duffy, the legendary photographer who captured the album’s artwork (which, at the time, was the most expensive cover ever made). Coinciding with the release of a limited edition book, Aladdin Sane 50, it brings together never-before-seen images alongside the iconic shot to show how Bowie and Duffy collaborated to explore the fluidity of gender, identity and style.

The weekend of the 21st-23rd April marks the 50th anniversary itself, and there’ll be a series of live Bowie-themed events to mark the occasion, including:

  • A live performance of the album, reimagined by the Nu Civilisation orchestra with help from guest vocalists Anna Calvi, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Roxanne Tataei, Tawiah and Lynks;
  • A talk about the V&A’s massive Bowie retrospective of 2013, and how it set a precedent for a more ‘immersive’, multisensory kind of music exhibition;
  • A conversation between that exhibition’s curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoff Marsh, and Chris Duffy (Brian Duffy’s son) who has curated the Southbank’s exhibition with Marsh. They’ll be musing on Bowie’s ability to craft radical new identities and his belief in using style to express individuality;
  • Paul Burston and Golnoosh Nour will discuss Bowie’s famously androgynous style and sexual ambiguity, bookended with late-night knees-ups run by Queer House Party and Queer Bruk on Friday and Saturday night; and
  • The National Poetry Library (which is a fascinating archive within the Southbank Centre, though they don’t make a lot of noise about it) will bring together ten poets for a live evening of spoken word, each of whom have been tasked with re-interpreting a track on the album.

It all comes on the heels of the news that the entirety of Bowie’s personal archives (made up of over 80,000 items) has been donated to the V&A, some of which will go on display at its East London offshoot, The Young V&A, when it reopens this summer.

So luckily, you won’t have to wait Five Years to see it.


NOTE: Aladdin Sane: 50 Years takes place from 6th April – 28th May 2023. You can see everything that’s on, and book tickets, HERE.

Aladdin Sane: 50 Years | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

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Aladdin Sane: 50 Years

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX