The newest iteration of the gravity-defying installation Big Bambú by American artists Doug and Mike Starn is currently being installed in the MACRO Testaccio, Rome, as the protagonist of the sixth edition of the Enel Contemporanea, curated by Francesco Bonami. This year's edition of the event celebrates the 50th anniversary of Enel.
American artists, twins, Mike and Doug Starn the protagonists of the sixth edition of Enel Contemporanea, one of the most prestigious international events in contemporary art, curated by Francesco Bonami . A special edition for the 50th anniversary of Enel, starting from December 11, sees the opening to the public in the wide spaces of MACRO Testaccio installation of the giant "Big Bambú" is created for the city of Rome. After the double carousel in motion by the German artist Carsten Höller and the "butterfly house" of the Dutch Bik Van der Pol - which opened in 2010 with great success the new MACRO in Rome and has landed in Moscow in September - this year visitors can see and experience a work that promises to excite not only the insiders.
Created by Enel in the consolidated partnership with MACRO - Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma, Enel Contemporanea 2012 offers the public the chance to live in a new way the museum area of MACRO Testaccio. "Big Bambú" is in fact an installation to be discovered, with paths and walkways open to visitors, including emotions, nature and colors. But it is also an amazing place to meet and aggregation, where to stay and chat, listen to a presentation, reading a book or simply to enjoy the view of Rome from a unique point of view and different: a new way to live the art, the neighborhood and the city. For the occasion, with a view to a better use of the internal MACRO Testaccio, are also carried two green islands along the side aisles, with a selection of botanical essences ornamental evergreen tied to tradition and spontaneity of the territory.
In the museum about 8,000 bamboo poles have been linked and interlocked by the artists and a group of climbers, American and Italian, to create an original sculpture and architecture, which grows up to 25 meters in height. The work of the series "Big Bambú" was conceived by the Starn brothers as a living organism, constantly changing in its complexity and energy, thanks to a solid and flexible, as well as highly symbolic, such as bamboo. Within the architecture-sculpture the unpredictable intersection of bamboo becomes at the same time playful element and expression of the diversity of life, imagination and creativity. Making flexibility and intricacies of the bamboo construction elements physical but also mental elements of reflection, visitors can indulge in the space of this work of art in constant transformation, conceived as if the building was never finished. A large living organism that turns, moves, adapted to the time, that grows in size but not in feelings.
In this way, the Starn brothers create one of the few works of contemporary art that, while presented in its finished like a sculpture, remains always organic and alive, capable of welcoming the audience and to incorporate them as an integral part of the process. In 2010, the installation "Big Bambú: You Can not, You Do not and You Will not Stop" (you can not, do not want and you will not stop) by Mike and Doug Starn, on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York , was the ninth most visited exhibition in the museum's history and the fourth most visited in the world that year. Subsequently, it was presented to the 54. Venice Biennale in 2011. Mike and Doug Starn worked together for over twenty years, focusing mainly on conceptual art and photography.
Their works, conceived as a novel organic structures in evolution, are found in numerous public and private collections and have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Represented by the famous art dealer Leo Castelli from 1989 until his death in their career the Starn have received numerous awards. Currently, besides Enel Contemporanea 2012, is in the process of their exhibition "Gravity of Light" hosted by the Cincinnati Art Museum. Work in Beacon, New York. With the launch of the sixth edition of Enel Contemporanea, renewing its partnership with the MACRO and creating a work of art for the city of Rome, Enel confirmed its willingness to support the arts and culture in all its forms and expressions , working with major institutions and for the benefit of the community.
Enel Contemporanea is a project promoted by Enel which annually of works on energy by artists of different nationalities (www.enelcontemporanea.com). The event, now in its sixth edition, which aims to explore the concept of energy through the universal language of art. For several years, Enel has married the language of contemporary art for its ability to express and communicate the values of innovation, environmental protection and international, which today are the three fundamental directions in which we face the challenge of a sustainable future and that at this moment well represent the path of development of a company like Enel.
Doug and Mike Starn
Under the artistic direction of Francesco Bonami, the international award Enel Contemporanea, is given to Mike and Doug Starn for the fiftieth anniversary of Enel company and for the city of Rome.
Through this work, the Starn brothers have shown that it is possible to create one of the very few pieces of contemporary art that despite being presented as a sculpture embraces organics and life and demonstrates the ability to draw in the spectator and englobe the viewer as an integrating part of the process...These sculptures, albeit of enormous dimensions, are in no danger of expressing neither monumentality nor self-celebration. The series in bamboo is in reality an “anti-monument” that lauds the creative process and conviviality... a “magical” piece of architecture and sculpture that answers to the individual’s culture rather than a collective one despite being the fruit of a collective effort. ...It is not a piece that can be banally termed ecological. It is biological. From its conception to its realization to ultimately its fruition, this piece has always been alive. — Francesco Bonami
This incarnation of Big Bambú eventually rising to 80 to 100' high (25 to 33 meters), is currently being permanently installed at the Macro Museum in the Testaccio district, becoming a symbol the burgeoning neighbourhood and of the museum located within the former stockyards of Rome. The crew is comprised of 15 US based and 10 Italian rock climbers, there is an elevated performance space stage within, and seating for about 50 people. A double helix stair and labyrinth paths take the visitor up over 50' high to two 'living rooms', and will allow 80 to 120 visitors at a time to wander freely. The sculpture opens on December 10th.
The bamboo “Architecture-Sculptures” by Mike and Doug Starn are able to transform locations radically. The apparent lightness of these structures brings an idea of spiritual, not geographical, nomadism to mind. Their construction is a process of coordination rather than organization, just as the construction of the ships in the Republic of Venice during the sixteenth century: the tension of the work comes to life from this interlocking of seemingly antique building methods and the clearly evident contemporary result. These sculptures, albeit of enormous dimensions, are in no danger of expressing neither monumentality nor self-celebration.
The series in bamboo is in reality an “anti-monument” that lauds the creative process and conviviality. Through this work, the Starn brothers have shown that it is possible to create one of the very few pieces of contemporary art that despite being presented as a sculpture embraces organics and life and demonstrates the ability to draw in the spectator and englobe the viewer as an integrating part of the process. Also the choice of materials, simple yet extremely strong, in itself conveys a powerful message and symbolism that evokes concepts of optimism and flexibility - flexibility that not only refers to the physical properties of the material but also to those relating to the mental and conceptual.
It may be said that the bamboo project is a representation in space of the human activity known as imagination. The Starn piece is much more complex than a simple tower. The work doesn’t only bond to a vertical architectural development. The structure allows both the vertical and horizontal to cohabit in the spaces. It doesn’t merely rise but also spreads outwards; it moves skywards again to then return to the ground. The unpredictable crisscrossing of the bamboo also serves to reflect the contradictions of human life which is much more similar to an intricate entwinement, however perfectly calculated, than an ascent to the top of the tower.
Even in its precision, the project appears as an impromptu process: the visitor must respond to this extemporaneousness by moving unpredictably and spontaneously within the piece itself. There is playfulness in the Starn brothers’ work even though it is neither a toy nor an amusement park. At an amusement park visitors are asked to abandon themselves to the space. This piece requires the visitor to actively participate, as if the work had never been finished; were in constant transformation - as if the sculpture built itself in its own unique way every time a spectator entered. This is a “magical” piece of architecture and sculpture that answers to the individual’s culture rather than a collective one despite being the fruit of a collective effort. It is an effort that with every step opens the doors to new personal experiences that at times can even be intimate. Even in its details, like the ropes that bind the joints and the intercrossing bamboo, all show the individual gesture that is manual and not mechanic.
It is not a piece that can be banally termed ecological. It is biological. From its conception to its realization to ultimately its fruition, this piece has always been alive. It is an organism that transforms, moves and adapts itself to natural time as if it were human time. It is an organism that grows not in dimensions but in sensations. — Francesco Bonami
Name: Big Bambú
Location: MACRO Testaccio, Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4, 00153 Rome, Italy
Type: Art in Architecture, Installation
Technique: Bamboo Structure
Artist: Doug and Mike Starn - 310 Fishkill Avenue, Beacon, NY 12508, United States
Text Description: © Courtesy of Doug and Mike Starn, fattitaliani
Images: © Doug and Mike Starn