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Care to Climb: Big Bambu in New York City

Who would have thought that when I took the elevator to the roof of a really big museum in NYC in search of a chicken sandwich, I would find  5,000 sticks of bamboo seemingly randomly  lashed together.  Here’s the story.

In May I enjoyed a couple of days in NYC.  While I was there I visited the mammoth Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s the largest art museum in our country and always interesting. So much to see. One can wander around its myriad of galleries for days and not see it all.

I went to see a Costume Exhibit.  Years ago I was a fashion buyer and then later a fashion writer for our local newspaper. The appeal of seeing beautiful clothes displayed in a curated setting is strong.  The current exhibit highlights how clothing reflects the changes in how females live their lives.  It is well worth a looksee.  Be sure to get the audio guide and listen in each of the sections.  It’s more about women’s lives than their clothes.

But that’s not the subject of this blog.  Instead, I’d like to focus on the what I discovered on the roof of the museum.   Experiencing BIG BAMBU  has lingered in my mind,  almost haunting me, ever since.

 

Bordering on bizarre, the Big Bambu is an installation of thousands of  pieces of bamboo lashed together to form a maze of sorts, a forest, a jungle, a stairwell and bridge on the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.   I had gone to the roof because it was a spectacularly sunny day in the Big Apple and someone had told me it was possible to have a bite to eat while enjoying a 360-degree view of the area around the museum.  Since the museum is situated on the edge of Central park I figured I’d like it.

Well, the café and seating space formerly there has been transformed by Big Bambu.  And while I was momentarily disappointed not to enjoy a quiet moment nibbling a chicken sandwich surrounded by uninterrupted vistas of the tops of the New York sky scrapers and Central Park trees, I found myself totally fascinated with the experience of being part of an exhibit that might be called art, might not.  Who knows?

Exhibition Big Bambu: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop is a growing and changing sculpture, piece of performance art, maybe architecture.  Artists and rock climbers are working daily adding to the system of 5,000 bamboo rods lashed together with 50 miles of nylon rope.

It is the creation of Doug and Mike Starn, 48 year-old-identical-twin artists.  It looks like it is finished but the reality is that it is a perpetual work in progress.  If you visit before it closes the end of October, you will have a different experience than I did.  How cool.

They chose bamboo, according to an article in the New York Times, because it is light yet incredibly strong and can withstand all kinds of weather.  And like the work itself, it constantly changes, its colors deepening and fading depending upon the light and weather.

Big Bambu is  one of the reasons I like to travel and to explore.  I never know what might be on the next roof I visit.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

2 Comments
  1. posted by
    Kathryn Chaplow
    Jul 7, 2010 Reply

    Intriguing. Thanks for posting this, Susan. Your travel blog always leaves me feeling “beckoned”. Not sure if this one has me wanting the city or the jungle! Nice job.

  2. posted by
    Peggy DePersia
    Jul 8, 2010 Reply

    So many connections to make to the ‘bamboo’.
    It has become the material of the ages in a way. Our nod to the 21st century and green thinking yet is it as old as recorded history?
    When did we become enamored of bamboo and do we understand all of the reasons why?
    I like that this structure is always morphing into whatever it will ultimately become….dynamic, something to shift one’s opinion about by the day it would seem…..
    I have a feeling that there is a lot more to learn and appreciate about bamboo and how clever of the artists to entitle it like a child’s toy or some mythic creature. I enjoyed reading about it…..what an interesting reflection of our contemporary culture and interests.

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