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David Bowie ‘Aladdin Sane’ 50th anniversary marked with special exhibition

Anna Calvi, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, and more acts will also play ‘Aladdin Sane’ in full at a celebratory gig

By Charlotte Krol

‘Aladdin Sane’ album cover
‘Aladdin Sane’ David Bowie album cover. CREDIT: Press

An exhibition to celebrate 50 years of David Bowie‘s album Aladdin Sane has been announced for London’s Southbank Centre.

Aladdin Sane: 50 Years exhibition is curated by Chris Duffy, the son of photographer Brian Duffy, the latter of whom collaborated with Bowie to create the 1973 album’s iconic lightning flash portrait artwork.

The two-month long exhibition runs from 6 April-28 May and explores the creation of the album’s artwork. A line-up of live music and talks inspired by the Bowie’s sixth record is also booked.

Additionally, Anna Calvi, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Roxanne Tataei, Tawiah, and Lynks will join join the Nu Civilisation Orchestra to perform Aladdin Sane live in full on 21 April at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Two club nights will also celebrate Bowie’s legacy with parties and music. On 21 April, DJ collective and community platform Queer House Party will host a programme of “radical fun”, while on 22 April, the Afro-Caribbean inspired Queer Bruk will blend dancehall, Afrobeats, soca and more for an “accessible all-out party”.

There will also be talks exploring Aladdin Sane, Bowie, and his cultural significance. The National Poetry Library presents Aladdin Sound with ten of the UK’s most exciting poets in the Centre’s Purcell Room on 21 April.

Each poet has been commissioned to write a new poem in response to each track on Aladdin Sane, creating a spoken word version of the album that will be presented live on stage. Poets include Forward Prize-winner Luke Kennard, Keith Jarrett, Golnoosh Nour and Mark Waldron.

On Saturday 22 April, author and co-curator of the V&A’s hit exhibition David Bowie Is, Geoffrey Marsh, joins with Victoria Broackes, co-curator of David Bowie Is and director of the London Design Biennale, to explore the rise of immersive music exhibitions.

They will discuss exhibitions ranging from The Rolling StonesExhibitionism (2016) to Amy: Beyond the Stage (2021). Broakes will chair a conversation with Chris Duffy discussing the Aladdin Sane: 50 Years exhibition and the enduring relevance of the album.

The day’s talks will close with writers Paul Burston and Golnoosh Nour on the cultural impact of Bowie’s androgyny and his playful subversion of gender identity.

Tickets are available here now for the exhibition, live music and talks.

In other news, last month The Museum of London Docklands issued a public call-out for a lost dress worn by Bowie on the cover of his third studio album, The Man Who Sold the World.