April 26, 2010 / 8:15 PM / in 9 years

"Living" bamboo sculpture opens at Met rooftop garden

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art will not only be able to view a new bamboo sculpture perched on the roof, they can also climb the 50-foot-high (15 meters) structure.

From a distance the artwork resembles bamboo scaffolding mangled by a hurricane. But artists and twin brothers Mike and Doug Starn envisioned it as a giant crested wave set against Central Park and its urban skyline.

“Big Bambu: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop,” which is a reference to the comedians Cheech and Chong and also the lyrics of a song by the Beastie Boys, opens on Tuesday and runs through the end of October.

Museum visitors can use bamboo pathways to walk through the structure or rest under its canopies, viewing it from inside the piece, or from the roof deck.

The sculpture, which is a work in progress, will contain 5,000 bamboo poles lashed together with 50 miles of colored nylon ropes. The artists and a team of rock climbers are building “Big Bambu” in three phases over the spring, summer and winter.

“The only thing that’s constant is change,” Mike Starn said during an interview in which the twins often finished each other’s sentences.

Doug Starn called the structure “an instinctual piece” that will change and grow over time like a living organism. The artists said their work embodies the contradictory essence of nature, which is always complete, yet always unfinished.

The finished piece will be 100 feet (30.5 meters) long and be made of three types of bamboo shipped from Georgia and South Carolina.

Madake, a Japanese bamboo, is the primary building bamboo. Meyeri, which is thinner and more flexible, and the larger moso bamboo is also used in the sculpture.

Born in New Jersey in 1961, the twins began their career as photographers. Last year they made their first public commissioned work for the Arts for Transit program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York.

The work, which is installed permanently at the South Ferry subway station, won the Brendan Gill Prize.

(Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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