Titled ‘Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince’, the symposium is set to take place January 25 to 28.
Artists, scholars, and journalists will be holding a series of discussions, lectures, and roundtables exploring how Bowie and Prince “championed aesthetic, social, and cultural freedom and rule-breaking in their respective repertoires and ultimately revolutionized racial, gender, and sexual identity politics in popular music culture.”
The opening event is scheduled to be a concert featuring a “critical deejay session” with Questlove of The Roots and Kimbra. Day two features a screening of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars followed by a Q&A with the film’s director D.A. Pennebaker, and a concluding keynote conversation with Solange.
Blackstar saxophonist Donny McCaslin will participate in a roundtable with Sheila E. called ‘Modern Love’: Bowie & Prince & the Art of Collaboration on the third day. The event will culminate in a concert from TV on the Radio on January 28. All the events during the conference are free.
Last year, designer Jonathan Barnbrook said that the vinyl sleeve and artwork for Bowie’s final album is packed with more hidden surprises – after some fans found that exposing the art to sunlight unveiled a galaxy of stars. Many more secrets have reportedly been found since.
“I regretted it somewhat because David told me off,” Barnbrook told us. “He phoned me up and said ‘you didn’t ask me about putting the roughs in the exhibition’. I said ‘I thought it would help people understand how we got to it’, and he said ‘I’m not telling you off, but the final outcome is effected by you showing the roughs’. I think that’s a very important lesson that I learned. If the end product isn’t an immaculate finished thing, then you change the meaning – that’s why for ‘Blackstar’ I haven’t shared everything, I haven’t shared the roughs – maybe in the future’.
“From the beginning, we discussed not revealing everything. There are certain things about the cover which haven’t been discovered. Often, people still don’t know that it says ‘Bowie’ in stars at the bottom.”