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Floria Sigismondi’s Music Video for David Bowie's 'Dead Man Walking' Turns 25


Video is part of MOMA’s permanent collection and described by Sigismondi as a Francis Bacon-inspired surreal compilation of disjointed characters

Floria Sigismondi’s Music Video for David Bowie's 'Dead Man Walking' Turns 25

SCHEME ENGINE shares that this month marks the 25th anniversary of David Bowie's iconic video of 'Dead Man Walking', directed by Floria Sigismondi.

From Bowie’s Earthling album, the video is part of MOMA’s permanent collection and described by Sigismondi as a Francis Bacon inspired surreal compilation of disjointed characters.

The video is one of multiple collaborations between Bowie and Sigismondi spanning 18 years.

Says Sigismondi: “He gave me so much. He gave me the permission to be myself. I just thought, my God, any idea you think of [for him], you can actually make. Taking from the mind into the physical was the biggest gift he could’ve given me. He always wanted to flip things. It was always challenging. He would say, ‘Let’s make the shortest music video ever.’ He was always looking for something different. I loved that because he never got comfortable and just sold what he was known for. He always challenged. And now that we see that we don’t have him anymore, that’s what he’s left; he’s left us with this beautiful, daring, characteristic that hopefully we can all embody.”


Born to Italian opera singer parents, Floria Sigismondi has led an existence forged equally in the theater, where stories are retold, and in the avant-garde, where futures are envisioned. Even her name bears the stamp of these roots. It is fitting then that in her work she has created a film language, which goes against the grain and challenges convention, while never failing to capture the raw emotional truths of her subjects and of the stories she tells. Her immense influence is felt the world over, in the arenas of music video, photography, film and advertising–in each field she has brought her signature spin and never left a project without leaving a lasting impression in her wake.

Floria’s audacious music video imagery and trademark cinematic style have made her one of the most acclaimed directors in the genre’s history. Her iconic videos for artists such as Rihanna, Bjork, The White Stripes, and Sigur Ros have swept awards globally, including MTV’s Music Video of the Year Award in 2014 for Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors. Spectacle, the first museum exhibition to celebrate the art and history of the music video, showcased Floria’s enormous influence. Her videos for David Bowie and Marilyn Manson have earned permanent spots in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Floria deftly conquers the narrative space of filmmaking, as well. Floria directed The Turning, the supernatural horror feature starring Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince, and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin. Previously, she wrote and directed the critically-acclaimed feature The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Her television work includes directing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu and American Gods for Starz. Her third feature, The Silence of Mercy, starring Annabelle Wallis and Raffey Cassidy, is currently in post.

In her still photography work, Floria pushes her trademark marriage of the poetic and the macabre to its limit, while managing to encompass the same emotional punch as her work in the moving image. Her images have been displayed in museums across the world and she recently published her third book of photographs, Eat the Sun, which features many of Hollywood and music’s most celebrated luminaries, such as Nicole Kidman, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Kaluuya and Saoirse Ronan.

Given all of this, it is not surprising that Floria should have found herself on numerous occasions partnered with Gucci and Alessandro Michele: a historic fashion house with a visionary creative director at its helm, who both honors the brand’s illustrious past and storied traditions, while boldly paving new roads forward and challenging the limitations of the medium. Similarly, Floria is known for incorporating early film and painterly aesthetics to create hyper-surreal and hallucinatory dreamscapes that are unquestionably of the present moment. Together Floria and Gucci have made history with campaigns she directed for Gucci Garden, Kenneth Anger, Gucci Bloom campaign starring Angelica Huston and Florence Welchand, and on the occasion of Gucci’s centenary, she co-directed “Aria,” with Michele.

In commercials, Sigismondi has also re-imagined such brands as Samsung, Absolute, Target, and MAC Cosmetics. Mugler, Equinox, Facebook and most recently Meta.

In both her commercial and creative endeavors, Sigismondi gives innovative form to the subconscious, exploring the space where the physical and psychological intersect. While she is identified with flawlessly executed worlds of fantasy and aspiration, her works of hope and beauty continue to influence the tone and esthetics of popular culture.

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Categories: Short Films and Music Videos, Music video

Scheme Engine, Fri, 22 Apr 2022 07:48:17 GMT