Fans of the children’s TV show Sesame Street will be hit with a wave of nostalgia when viewing a new installation on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The sculpture by Alex Da Corte, a Philadelphia-based conceptual artist and designer, features a blue version of the show’s beloved character, Big Bird.
The 26-foot-tall kinetic sculpture is called As Long as the Sun Lasts, and is located in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. It depicts Big Bird perched on a crescent moon with a ladder in hand, suggesting the possibility of passage back to Earth or to other galaxies. Covered in approximately 7000 individually-placed aluminum feathers, the Sesame Street star rotates with passing air currents as the character gazes out at the New York skyline.
For those wondering why Big Bird is rendered in blue instead of yellow, the choice of color reflects Da Corte’s personal associations with the show. Growing up partially in Venezuela, he watched the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, in which Big Bird’s counterpart, Garibaldo, was blue. The color also alludes to the 1985 film, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, in which the character, while out on a road trip, is captured and painted blue by two carnival operators. The title for the commission comes from a collection of whimsical short stories by the Italian author Italo Calvino about the potential of new explorations. The installation is the ninth in a series of site-specific commissions for the outdoor space.
“Alex Da Corte’s bold work for the Cantor Roof Garden oscillates between joy and melancholy, and brings a playful message of optimism and reflection,” says Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “The installation, which the artist initiated just as the pandemic was taking hold, invites us to look through a familiar, popular, modern lens at our own condition in a transformed emotional landscape. As the sculpture gently rotates in the wind, it calls us in an assuring way to pause and reflect: We are reminded that stability is an illusion, but ultimately what we see is a statement of belief in the potential of transformation.”
The Roof Garden Commission: Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts runs until 31 October at The Met and further information is available here.
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