Mike & Doug Starn (New Jersey 1961 - )


‘Photography isn't just an image, anymore than a painting is just paint. The print is an object, and this object becomes the embodiment of a concept. We always felt that since, in photography, physical reality was directly and perfectly captured, the real world (warts and all) should be apparent in its realization - the print. Secondly, that photography captures a moment in time, but the artwork created from the photograph continues in time, the artwork is not frozen.

Over the years, the work experiences changes - physically and conceptually, like the deteriorated tallow and roses in a Beuys or as Duchamp's Ready-mades, now rarified (anti-)heroic masterpieces of the 20th Century, completely antithetical to their original concept. The passage of time works to transform the being and the meaning of everything.’

Doug & Mike Starn, September 2009

Doug and Mike Starn were born in New Jersey in 1961. Identical twins, they work collaboratively with photography and continue defying categorization, effectively combining traditionally separate disciplines such as sculpture, photography, painting, video, and installation.

This summer the Starns continue the evolution of their monumental installation Big Bambú You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop at the 54th Venice Biennale. Housed at the Casa Artom, next door to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the central aspect of this ongoing sculpture is a 50’ tall hollow tower of bamboo, with a trail spiraling up to the top reaching a 20' wide roof top lounge. The Starns and their crew of rock climbers will continue to lash together bamboo, sustaining the spiral upward until the closing day of the sculpture, June 15th.

Big Bambú by Mike & Doug Starn has manifested itself in several forms. Firstly in their studio, the former Tallix foundry where it continues to evolve through on-going rebuilding and rethinking of the structure at all times.
Embodying the notions of adaptation and interconnectedness, Big Bambú was re-interpreted on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY last year. Installed on the Cantor roof garden, this colossal artwork constructed in the form of a cresting wave eventually rose to 50 feet high, bridging the realms of architecture, performance and sculpture. The continual evolution of the artists’ seminal installation was witnessed by visitors as the structure’s intricate network of 3200 bamboo poles were lashed together by the artists and a team of professional rock climbers over the course of its 6 month residency. Encouraged to engage with this ever-changing living organism, visitors were able to walk through the labyrinthine space and climb on its sides.

As the work represents the continual growth of living things, in addition to 2,000 fresh poles harvested from a farm in France, Doug and Mike have cut several of the Fragments out of the Metropolitan installation to construct the Venice sculpture: "We are grafting a new Big Bambú and using 1,000 poles from the Met as stem cells, the Venice piece will still be the Metropolitan piece but also a new one, Big Bambú is always growing and changing and becoming something new-- as we all are." Big Bambú ranked 4th in total attendance of a contemporary art exhibition internationally and the 9th highest attended exhibit in the entire history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In spring 2009, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Arts for Transit unveiled See it split, see it change the brother’s first-ever public commission. The work is permanently installed in the South Ferry subway terminal. The approximately 250-foot long artwork, ranging from 9 to 14 feet in height, presents the artists’ iconic tree photographs, and a leaf transposed into fused glass.

Exhibited by

Work Selection

Mike & Doug Starn - walked to school ourselves this morning

walked to school ourselves this morning