Like last year’s visit to the spectacular Neto installation at the Park Avenue Armory, Big Bambu is a massive site-specific installation by Doug and Mike Starn for the rooftop garden at the Met. Part sculpture and part installation art, the bamboo structure is being continuously built from opening day in late April up until October by a group of artists and rock climbers. This work is one of those pieces you need to see in person in order to appreciate the complexity of the structure and the way the light playfully filters and dances through the intricate lacework that is created by the interlocking bamboo poles. It’s possible to climb the installation through a series of winding staircases and platforms that are being built into the structure, but you need to grab one of the limited guided tours in order to do so (to the big disappointment of the girls).
We couldn’t have picked a better day to come. Wednesday was the first day that the heatwave broke and we were treated to a sunny and comfortable day that couldn’t have been more perfect. The view from the rooftop garden overlooking Central Park and the surrounding buildings was a view that I hadn’t seen in about 20 years. Visiting an installation by the Starn twins on that roof also seemed fitting as I remember their rise as stars in the art world in the late 80s from my high school and early college days – their taped photographic assemblages to me, in many ways, represented the art of that era. It’s interesting to see how their work has evolved over the last 25 years from those early photo works to these large scale installations. That evolution and the fact that the brothers, who are identical twins, have remained a creative partnership for so long is sort of awe inspiring. But this is what art does. It inspires, it transports, it confuses, it confronts, it makes you think and seek out more. Maybe the girls will have a recollection of all this someday, beyond the funny butt jokes. Maybe Claudine will remember how the filtered sunlight inspired her to put on a dance under the bamboo ceiling, way up high on a roof one perfect summer day in NY.