Starn Twins Installation: “Big Bambu” at the Met


Checking out the new sculptures/installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof garden has become one of New York City’s great springtime (and summer-long) rituals. With its spectacular views of Central Park, readily available snacks and beverages (including beer, wine and cocktails), and an all-star roster of contemporary artists transforming the space over the years, the MET roof garden is a guaranteed good-time destination, whether with the kids, on a first date, on a 700th date, or after work with friends.


In the past the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof garden has been handed over to the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Andy Goldsworthy, Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, and, last year, Roxy Paine. This year the coveted commission was given to the brothers Doug and Mike Starn, aka the Starn Twins, New Jerseyites with an impressive record of putting together very cool, very complicated structures and public installations. And after one beautiful sunny afternoon last week with Big Bambu: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop, we can say that the Starn Twins definitely delivered. 


Big Bambu, which fills the entire main courtyard of the Met roof garden, is huge… and is only going to get huger. Constructed from nearly 5,000 intermeshed fresh-cut bamboo poles, lashed together with more than 50 miles of nylon rope, the Starn Twins structure will be added to all summer, eventually soaring 50 feet above the terrace. Even now, on opening week, it’s a monumental work, measuring 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and rising 30 feet into the air. And Big Bambu is dense as well… when you’re walking through it, only glimpses of the “outside world” are possible. We’ve seen too many Vietnam war movies not be reminded of the jungle, and so the Starn Twins piece had a slightly menacing edge for us. But Big Bambu is also protective (most literally, from the sun), and visually dazzling, AND an awesome feat of engineering.      


There are two ways to see the Starn Twins Big Bambu Installation on the Met roof garden. The first, and simplest, is just to show up on any given day and walk among the forest of bamboo that serves as the structure’s foundation. And the smaller, southern patio of the roof garden is bamboo-free, handy for soaking in the sun, the park vistas, and as a viewing platform to take in the art work as a whole. The second, and cooler-sounding way to experience Big Bambu is to get advanced tickets to explore the Starn Twins structure from the inside, on guided tours along the elevated, roller-coastery pathways that travel into and above the sculpture. There are a whole list of guidelines you have to follow in order to take part in the tour, all of which are spelled out at the Met website. The next time we go, we are definitely going to give the tour a try.   



The Starn Twins on the Met Roof Garden: Big Bambu Details

Doug and Mike Starn: Big Bambu, will be on view until October 31, 2010, weather permitting. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The museum is located on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street. As always, the price of admission to the Met is “suggested.” For complete information about the Met, please visit the Met for more information on the Starn Twins installation. 


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