Monday, May 6, 2013

The Starn Brothers at MACRO Testaccio

Last Saturday John and I headed off to the Testaccio neighbourhood of Rome to see Mike and Doug Starn's "architectural sculpture", the Big Bambu.

We had seen the piece before on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in NYC several years ago but I must say that it seemed to work even better at this site.

The amazing, ethereal structure is made of bamboo and rope and constructed by a team of rock climbers. Visitors can actually climb up into the sculpture on a winding, fragile-looking path even though it looks like a whisp of a structure.

Adding to the experience in this site is the MACRO Testaccio complex itself which inhabits an abandoned, huge slaughterhouse, Il Mattatolo, which once processed all the meat for not only Rome but all of central Italy. Cattle pens, exterior tracks and hooks for carrying carcasses between the processing buildings give the space a chilling, eerie feel.

As the visitor wanders through the yards, she gets glimpses not only of the soaring Big Bambu sculpture but of Monte Testaccio, a hill made up of discarded olive oil amphorae from the days of Ancient Rome when this area was a major port for the city. The installation and its site make for a challenging experience. Decidedly worth visiting if you are in Rome this spring and summer.


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