‘big bambu’ in rome by mike and doug starn
all images © mike and doug starn
for the fiftieth anniversary of energy firm enel company and the city of rome, american artists mike and doug starn have built a version of their
renowned ‘big bambu’ structure as part of the annual enel contemporanea art initiative. the bamboo ‘architecture sculptures’ are able to transform locations radically –
with this most recent iteration being permanently installed at the MACRO museum in the testaccio district in rome, opening to the public on december 10th, 2012.
the scaffolding-like sculpture will eventually rise to 25 to 33 meters to become an iconic symbol for the flourishing neighbourhood located
within the city’s former stockyards.
the project required the efforts of 15 american and 10 italian rock climbers, building an elevated performance space stage integrated within the framework,
and able accommodate about 50 people. a double helix stair and various labyrinth paths lead the visitors up over two ‘living rooms’ to
allow 80 to 120 visitors at a time to wander freely. the thousands of bamboo rods are connected and interlocked with a traditional method
generating the chaotic network-like form – the unpredictable intersection of bamboo offering a playful elements well as an expression of the diversity of life,
imagination and human creativity.
the enel contemporanea, now in its sixth year, is a public art project that was started in 2007 to promote artistic reflection on energy.
the aim of the award is to stimulate public opinion on a highly topical theme – the use of energy in its various articulations as a sustainable and renewable source.
the project was selected under the artistic direction of francesco bonami who says of the piece:
‘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.’
the project required the efforts of 15 american and 10 italian rock climbers