chapter  15
Out of this World: Ziggy Stardust and the Spatial Interplay of Lyrics, Vocals and Performance
Pages 17

As Chapter 1 by Kathryn Johnson in this volume demonstrates, David Bowie has built his career-and thus the very mutability of his artistic identity-on his idea that “There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings” (Bowie, 1995). In the following chapter, we explore the possibilities of this perspective, considering David Bowie in the midst of his various personae, collaborators and artistic mediums (costume, music, film). We ask where the authority of Bowie’s work lies when it requires numerous people to create his music, stage performances and albums. Do we prioritise the text over the author, especially if we cannot specifically attribute all credit to one person? Particularly in the 1970s, Bowie presented himself on ever-shifting grounds, whether he played a fictional character, claimed different sexual identities or declared the apocalypse, the beginning of the end. Even in his lyrics, Bowie evades a fixed subjectivity, and instead acts as a blank canvas, one which may be coloured by audience response. We do not argue, though, that Bowie is entirely absent, but rather we make his present voice the focal point of our study. When we hear Bowie’s voice, we do not hear the authoritative “Bowie” message or project. We hear the dramatisation of performative identity and culture in the making; we hear the fluctuation. And ultimately, we hear ourselves-our own responses to the indefinable.