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An astonishing sculpture by Doug and Mike Starn is being installed atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, offering a rare opportunity to interact with an evolving work of art. The artists discuss their monumental work.

"It is a temporary structure in a sense, but it is a sculpture—not a static sculpture, it’s an organism that we are just a part of—helping it to move along," says the American artist Mike Starn of the work of art he and his identical twin brother, Doug, have installed atop the roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum Art in New York. Or more accurately, the work of art they are in the process of installing. Reflecting the artists’ interest in organic systems, Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop, will evolve through the duration of its exhibition (until October 31), with a team of rock climbers constantly adding to the construction. Likened to something akin to a giant bird’s nest, Big Bambú is being pieced together to create a structure that will ultimately measure 100ft long by 50ft wide by 50ft high.

"The reason we had to make it so big is to make all of us feel small—or at least to awaken us to the fact that individually we are not so big," says Doug Starn of the structure that is being created from 5,000 bamboo poles, which are secured by 50 miles of nylon rope. "Once we’re aware of our true stature we can feel a part of something much more vast than we could ever have dreamed of before." An artery of internal footpaths ensures this is art to interact with and, along with the panoramic views of Central Park and the city skyline beyond, emphasizes the feeling of being a small part of a big world that Doug Starn refers to.

Though the work of the identical twins Doug and Mike Starn defies categorization, the artists are most famous for their photography, and they will be on site with their camera throughout Big Bambú’s construction. The photographs they have taken so far, some of which are showcased alongside this article, include images of the rock climbers at work as they add to the sculpture. As Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Chairman of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, comments: “When animated by the team of rock climbers, [Big Bambú] will become an organic system of its own.” And that is exactly what Doug and Mike Starn intended.

Doug + Mike Starn on the Roof: Big Bambú
April 27, 2010–October 31, 2010

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