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A Forest of Art That Grows on Museum Visitors in New York

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DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to American Mosaic in VOA Special English.


I’m Doug Johnson.

Today we celebrate our thirteen-hundredth show on Friday the thirteenth with music from the band Arcade Fire and a story about a huge shopping center in Minnesota.

But first let’s walk among the bamboo …on top of one of the most famous museums in the world.


Big Bambu

DOUG JOHNSON: Imagine a piece of artwork that combines sculpture, building design, performance — and trees. Artists and twin brothers Doug and Mike Starn and a team of rock climbers have been building a work called “Big Bambu” since April. This sculpture is on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It has been a huge hit with summer visitors. Shirley Griffith has more.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: From a distance, Big Bambu looks like a huge nest in the shape of a wave. Parts of the sculpture extend up to twelve meters high. This nest is made up of thousands of pieces of bamboo tied together with the kind of brightly colored rope usually used by mountain climbers.

It may seem disorderly, but the placement of each piece of bamboo has been carefully planned.

The full title of this work is "Big Bambu: You Can’t, You Don’t and You Won’t Stop.” The second part of the title is taken from a song by the Beastie Boys. Doug and Mike Starn chose this title to bring attention to the fact that their sculpture is about growth and change.

The artists have been adding new areas to the sculpture all summer, so it is slowly changing. They plan to continue working on it until the end of October when it will be taken apart. The sculpture is made up of small individual parts. They say it shows the interconnected dependency that all humans have on each other.

The bamboo is a natural product harvested in the states of Georgia and South Carolina. The artists chose bamboo because it is light, strong and can survive all kinds of weather. They have compared the pathways on the sculpture to the arteries in the human body.

Visitors can experience Big Bambu in two ways. They can walk under and around the sculpture on the Roof Garden. Or, they can make plans for a guided visit and enter into the sculpture and walk around on its pathways.


Climbing into Big Bambu is like entering a magical tree-house. The sculpture is exciting because it invites visitors to explore and experience art physically as well as mentally. And, this sculpture permits visitors to climb up into the sky to enjoy an extraordinary -- and temporary -- view of New York City.


Mall of America

DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week comes from China. Margaret wants to know about the most popular shopping place in America.

The largest and most popular shopping mall in the United States is the Mall of America. It is in Bloomington, Minnesota, in the north-central part of the country near the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It opened in nineteen ninety-two and cost six hundred fifty million dollars to build.

Each year about forty million people visit the Mall of America. Mall officials say four out of ten people who visit have traveled long distances.

Visitors come from more than thirty-two countries. Many people stay several days when they visit the mall. There are more than forty hotels within eight kilometers.

The Mall of America has more than five hundred twenty stores. It also has more than fifty places to eat. If you lined up all the stores side by side, they would cover a distance of almost seven kilometers. If you stayed only ten minutes in each store, it would take over eighty-six hours to complete your visit.

About eleven thousand people work at the Mall of America. During the winter holidays, about thirteen thousand people work there.

When the owners designed the mall, they wanted it to be more than just a place to shop and eat. So they made entertainment a big part of their plan. The Nickelodeon Universe is an indoor theme park. It has more than twenty-five rides including several roller coasters.

Another popular part of the mall is the Underwater Adventures Aquarium. It holds about five thousand sea animals. Visitors walk through a ninety-one meter glass tube. Sharks and other ocean animals swim above and beside you as you walk through the tube.

Some people who visit the Mall of America have other things on their mind besides sharks, shopping, eating and roller coasters. They go to the Chapel of Love to be married. More than five thousand couples have had their weddings at the Mall of America.

More than six hundred fifty million people have visited the Mall of America since it opened eighteen years ago. Now the owners have plans for a large addition. The “Phase Two” plan will nearly double the size of the mall. When it is complete, there will be enough room for up to nine hundred stores.


Arcade Fire

DOUG JOHNSON: The band Arcade Fire is very hot right now. It released a new album, “The Suburbs,” last week. The band played two sold-out shows at the twenty thousand seat Madison Square Garden in New York City. And director Terry Gilliam filmed one of those concerts for a live video broadcast on YouTube August fifth. Mario Ritter has more on Arcade Fire and its music.

A Forest of Art That Grows on Museum Visitors in New York
A Forest of Art That Grows on Museum Visitors in New York

MARIO RITTER: Régine Chassagne and Win Butler formed Arcade Fire in Montreal, Canada, in two thousand three. The husband and wife both play several instruments and sing.

They are joined in the band by Butler’s brother William, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara.The seven musicians produce a big sound, like in “Wake Up” from their first album, “Funeral.”


Arcade Fire was a critical favorite from the beginning. “Funeral” came out in two thousand four. Rolling Stone magazine named it the number two rock album of the last ten years. Blender Magazine said it was one of top one hundred indie rock albums of all time. Arcade Fire starting opening in concerts for major bands like U2 and working with big names like David Bowie.

In two thousand seven, Arcade Fire released “Neon Bible.” It opened at number two on Billboard Magazine’s Top Two Hundred albums chart. “Neon Bible” was number one on the rock and indie rock charts. Here is the title track.


Arcade Fire has been performing this summer in the United States, Canada and Europe. “The Suburbs” opened on Billboard's Top Two Hundred Albums at number one. It was already number one in Britain. We leave you with the title track from Arcade Fire’s new album, “The Suburbs.”


DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Dana Demange, Jim Tedder and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.