Any fellowship program that respects artists will not set out like missionaries to train them to be good citizens, which will do as much to reinforce the popular assumption that artists are irresponsible children as supporting facile aesthetic tantrums . . . The visual arts field should be seen as en ecosystem in which many different kinds of art must be able to flourish.
– Michael Brenson, “Visionaries and Outcasts”
Last year at the UN talks in Copenhagen there was an awful lot of art. I mean a big glorious bucketful. I mean exhibitions and performances and people-hosting-people-as-art, and there was a great amount of debate as to how that was going to affect policy. If at all. In an interview with me for Inhabitat.com, Ian Garrett of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts reported that in Copenhagen, “These creative ventures, in talking about climate change, are reinforcing what people are feeling around town here and they have an increasing voice with the policy makers of the world,” while admitting that the influence art had on policy was indirect at best.
So now what? Tonight, in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there was a gathering of minds looking to answer exactly that question. Part of the PEN World Voices of International Literature, the even was called Weather Report: What Can We Do? and featured, among others, Bill McKibben, author of the 350.org campaign, Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, Climatologist James Hansen and Dot Earthist Andrew Revkin.
Would love to read somebody’s lecture notes. In the meantime, I’ll be “doing” some blogging and art-ing.
Curator Anne Strauss talks to Doug and Mike Starn about the exhibition.
Download the audio file. (7.97 MB)
Invited by The Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a site-specific installation for The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, the twin brothers Mike and Doug Starn (born in New Jersey in 1961) will present their new work, Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop, opening on April 27. The monumental bamboo structure, ultimately measuring 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 50 feet high, will take the form of a cresting wave that bridges realms of sculpture, architecture, and performance. Visitors will witness the continuing creation and evolving incarnations ofBig Bambú as it is constructed throughout the spring, summer, and fall by the artists and a team of rock climbers. Set against Central Park and its urban backdrop, Big Bambúwill suggest the complexity and energy of an ever-changing living organism. It will be the thirteenth-consecutive single-artist installation on the Roof Garden.
More about the Exhibition Big Bambú is a growing and changing sculpture―a vast network of 5,000 interlocking 30- and 40-foot-long fresh-cut bamboo poles, lashed together with 50 miles of nylon rope. It will continue to be constructed throughout the duration of the exhibition. The first phase of the structure―measuring about 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 30 feet high―will be completed by opening day, April 27. Subsequently, the artists and rock climbers will build up the eastern portion of the sculpture to an elevation of 50 feet. By summer, the western portion of the sculpture will be about 40 feet high. An internal footpath artery system will grow along with the structure, facilitating its progress. The evolving state of the work will be documented by the artists in photographs and videos.
Visiting the Exhibition
Visitors will be able to experience Big Bambú from the Roof Garden level, open to everyone during regular Museum hours, weather permitting, and to walk among a forest of bamboo poles that serves as the base of the sculpture. Alternatively, visitors will be able to explore the artwork on brief tours led by Museum-trained guides. On the guided tours, held during regular Museum hours, weather permitting, small groups of visitors will be able to walk along the elevated interior network of pathways roughly 20 to 40 feet above the Roof Garden. Tickets will be required for the guided tours, and specific guidelines will apply to those interested in participating. Please read them for details and requirements.
Tickets for guided tours will be able to be obtained only in person and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis with Museum admission at the Big Bambú Registration Desk, in the Uris Center for Education, located at the 81st Street ground-level entrance. Tickets will be available twice a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, andHoliday Mondays, when the Museum is open to the public, and three times a day on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets for morning tours will be released at 9:30 a.m. Tickets for afternoon tours will be released at noon. On Fridays and Saturdays, tickets for evening tours will be released at 3:30 p.m. There will be a limit of one ticket per person, and tickets will be nontransferable. All tour participants (other than children without identification) will be required to present photo identification to obtain a ticket.
About the Artists
Born in New Jersey in 1961, the identical twins Doug and Mike Starn work collaboratively and defy categorization, combining traditionally separate disciplines such as sculpture, photography, painting, video, and installation. In spring 2009, the Arts for Transitprogram of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City unveiled See it split, see it change, the Starns’ first public commission. The work, which is installed permanently at the South Ferry subway station, won the Brendan Gill Prize. Their work has been exhibited internationally and is included in public and private collections worldwide. Their solo exhibitions include Gravity of Light (2004, 2008), Absorption + Transmission (2005, 2006), Behind Your Eye (2004), Sphere of Influence (1994), Mike and Doug Starn: Selected Works 1985-87 (1988), and The Christ Series (1988). The artists live and work in the New York area.
Exhibition Organization and Credits
The exhibition is organized by Anne L. Strauss, Associate Curator of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum.
The exhibition is made possible by
Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.
The exhibition is also made possible in part by the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund.
Rope is provided by Mammut Sports Group, Inc.
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, 83rd Street and Fifth Avenue, New York City
What time: 8–9:30 p.m.
With Jostein Gaarder, James Hansen, Frederic Hauge, Bjørn Lomborg, Bill McKibben, Andrew Revkin, and Cynthia Rosenzweig; moderated by Robert Silvers
Tickets: $25/$20 PEN Members/The Metropolitan Museum of Art Members and New York Review of Books subscribers; www.smarttix.com or (212) 868-4444. For Member discount code, please contact Lara Tobin at email@example.com or (212) 334-1660 ext. 126.
“What Can We Do?” brings together on one panel some of the premier scientists and writers from the U.S. and Scandinavia: Frederic Hauge, founder and director of the international environmental organization the Bellona Foundation; Bjørn Lomborg, an Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen Business School and author of the controversial The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming; Jostein Gaarder, author of the internationally-acclaimed novel Sophie’s World and creator of the Sophie Prize; Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, and numerous other books; James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists and author of Storms of My Grandchildren; and author and environment journalist Andrew Revkin, whose biography of Chico Mendes, formed the basis of the feature ﬁlm The Burning Season. Cynthia Rosenzweig is co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the mayor advising the city on adaptation for its critical infrastructure. The New York Review of Books editor, Robert Silvers will guide the discussion about how we can turn back the tides of global warming.
For more information: PEN American Center – Weather Report: What Can We Do?.
With reference to the post below on the value of art, The Art Newspaper reports that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is about to commission Jeff Koons to create a sculpture of a life size replica of a train that will dangle from a crane – commemorating the railroad’s part in 19th century America’s westward migration. “We’re talking about a $25m work,” says Koons.
Twenty-five million makes it the most expensive artwork ever commissioned by a museum – even more expensive than Richard Serra’s $20m commission for the Guggenheim, Bilbao. Talks between LACMA and Koons began two years go, in those long-gone days when it looked like the boom was going on for ever. In times like these, it seems absurd for an art institution to be shelling out this much for a single artwork. And you don’t even have to be of the Patti Smith opinion, that Koons’ work is “just litter upon the earth”, to think this kind of commission is a very bad idea right now.
I was in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. The nature of the city means that the larger art institutions like LACMA and the struggling MOCA seem to have so little connnection to the real life of the city.
The artist Fritz Haeg, who I interviewed for a piece in The Observer that’s coming up on April 18 talked about this. “The way LA operates is not in the way of a European urban system of a top-down institution. It’s much more networked. This is an artists’ town, and there are a lot of small artist-run spaces that people feel more connected to personally than they do the museums.”
In this climate, in that city, the Koons commission way looks too much like art as big shiny bling.
Photo of Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Yellow) 1994-2000 taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, by Ken Applebaum