On The Roof – At The Met

October 11, 2010

BIG BAMBU by Doug & Mike Starn is on the roof at the Met for a limited time.  Invited by The Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a site-specific installation for The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, the twin brothers Mike and Doug Starn present their new work, Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop. The monumental bamboo structure, ultimately measuring 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 50 feet high, takes the form of a cresting wave that bridges realms of sculpture, architecture, and performance.  Set against Central Park and its urban backdrop, Big Bambú suggests the complexity and energy of an ever-changing living organism. It is the thirteenth-consecutive single-artist installation on the Roof Garden.

Big Bambú is a growing and changing sculpture―a vast network of 5,000 interlocking 30- and 40-foot-long fresh-cut bamboo poles, lashed together with 50 miles of nylon rope. It will continue to be constructed throughout the duration of the exhibition. The first phase of the structure―measuring about 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 30 feet high―was completed by opening day, April 27. The artists and rock climbers are built up the eastern portion of the sculpture to an elevation of 50 feet. By summer, the western portion of the sculpture was about 40 feet high. An internal footpath artery system grows along with the structure, facilitating its progress. The evolution of the work has been documented by the artists in photographs and videos.

Visitors are able to experience Big Bambú from the Roof Garden level, open to everyone during regular Museum hours, weather permitting, and to walk among a forest of bamboo poles that serves as the base of the sculpture. Alternatively, visitors are able to explore the artwork on brief tours led by Museum-trained guides. On the guided tours, held during regular Museum hours, weather permitting, small groups of visitors are able to walk along the elevated interior network of pathways roughly 20 to 40 feet above the Roof Garden. Tickets are required for the guided tours, and specific guidelines apply to those interested in participating.  I chose to have a drink with my partner under the wonderful structure and watch the sky turn from day to night.

Born in New Jersey in 1961, the identical twins Doug and Mike Starn work collaboratively and defy categorization, combining traditionally separate disciplines such as sculpture, photography, painting, video, and installation. In spring 2009, the Arts for Transit program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City unveiled See it split, see it change, the Starns’ first public commission. The work, which is installed permanently at the South Ferry subway station, won the Brendan Gill Prize. Their work has been exhibited internationally and is included in public and private collections worldwide. Their solo exhibitions include Gravity of Light (2004, 2008), Absorption + Transmission (2005, 2006), Behind Your Eye (2004), Sphere of Influence (1994), Mike and Doug Starn: Selected Works 1985-87 (1988), and The Christ Series (1988). The artists live and work in the New York area.

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