I've been watching the growth of this mysterious thatch on top of the Met for a while--it is dizzying and deranged and absolutely dazzling. The 48-year old identical twins, Doug and Mike Starn, have been building their labyrinth of bamboo over the last seven months, and they--and their visitors--have only a few weeks left to enjoy the results together. Indeed, it is often the case that while you are enjoying their work, they are working away, suspended fifty feet above your head, like spiders weaving their webs before your eyes.

The sculpture is made of bamboo from Georgia and a century-old plantation in South Carolina; the poles are tied together, using nautical and climbing knots, with nylon cords in various widths and many colors. Its official title is: "Big Bambu: You Can't, You Don't, and You Won't Stop." And that, indeed, captures the spirit of this entire I can, I do--Just Watch Me--and I'll Stop When I Want To enterprise. It is willful and oppositional, exactly the kind of thing that can only happen in a city like New York, where the atmosphere reverberates to an "I'll Do It My Way" madness and majesty.

Even though the structure, we are told, has been carefully planned, it has a chaotic feel to it--that's the first thing that strikes you when you climb onto the roof and crane your neck to peer up into its depths. As the piece has grown, walkways have been laid down and refined, so that you can climb a twisted, turning path (in a guided tour) through the sculpture. It is surprisingly strong and stable, though it look haphazard.

It reminds me of that game of Pick-Up Stix we used to play--as though the bamboo had been thrown down randomly and one wrong move would send every pole scattering. By this weekend, one edge of the piece seemed to be finished, jutting out over the precipice of the building as if it were a stylized wave from a Japanese woodblock, curling up out of a cerulean sky.

I wandered around the base of the sculpture, threading my way through the supporting bamboo poles as if I were in a forest. Here and there were little surprises, small signatures left, no doubt, by trickster knot tiers. I especially loved the stones caged within short bamboo poles, their hard and jagged edges bound by the smooth wood and soft cords.

The piece has grown more powerful with every passing week. Within a few minutes of my recent visit, it was working its weird magic on me. I felt like I had wandered into an enchanted wood, and felt, too, as if I were about to turn into a giant winged bird. I had fantasies of feathering my twiggy nest, adding a few more poles here and there, a couple more sailor's knots in green or orange or purple--my nest may have looked like a mess to other eyes, but to mine, it made complete and loving sense. I would peck my way up the structure, get to the top, then pad and punch and crunch and settle into the yielding springiness of my bamboo bed before turning a bright beady eye onto the real jungle that lay before me, the pileated concrete skyline of the hard, vast, and surreal cityscape.


pve design said...

As a mother of twins (fraternal) - I am always full of intrigue to see how brothers collaborate over a life time. I must show this to my sons.

Anonymous said...

This is amazingly beautiful. And since I am visiting Japan as I write this-I appreciate the strength of Bamboo.

Karena said...

Amazing Dominique. I too was reminded of the pick up sticks. The infrastructure is astounding!!


Art by Karena

Bruce Barone said...

I would love to see this in person!

barbara said...

That's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen! I can't imagine their vision, but so glad they had it.
Thanks for sharing.

Claudia Juestel said...

Simply stunning! Planned chaos provides interesting results. Love the detail of the multi-color ropes. It must evoke many different emotions from different angles and distances.

I hope I will get to see it.



Tricia O'Brien said...

Amazing! Reminds me a little of some Spirit Nests that I saw down on the coast of CA, Big Sur last year. With the Spirit Nests you can climb in and perch or snooze inside. They are like a giant bird's nest above the ground. Very Cool. Check out Jayson Fann's link below. Tricia www.cafetrix.blogspot.com

quintessence said...

What a truly amazing piece of art. Like you and reader Karena, I was reminded of pick up sticks immediately. It also somehow reminds me of a Dutch artist I recently discovered - Theo Jansen. I find these sort of living sculptures so inspiring - they really have a life of their own.

omomma said...

Thank you for your long hair article in the New York Times [online this evening]. I love my gray hair, probably not as much as when it was pitch black. Maybe I'll grow it long again.

Anonymous said...

holy that was cool

Anonymous said...

holy that was cool