The Bamboo Curtain (2013)


Neighboring our former waterfront home is a restaurant parking lot, the source of excessive amounts of noise from its denizens, including very loud music, yelling and screaming, and fighting. It’s The Bronx. Screening us from the lot, and muting much of the noise, was a thick stand of Leyland cypresses, a tree known for is sound-absorbent quality. But Hurricane Sandy uprooted and killed almost all of these beautiful trees, exposing us to not only the noise, but the staring eyes of the restaurant-goers.

We decided to create a privacy screen utilizing the bamboo thicket that had invaded our landlady’s yard across the street. We wanted a whimsically sculptural look, and achieved it by roping together the bamboo stalks into a “fence,” supported by existing trees and heavy limbs of our mulberry tree (also a victim of Sandy) planted in the earth.

Thus we created our “Bamboo Curtain,” named in reference to the existential barrier of the Chinese during the Cold War. To enhance the symbolism, we made the heads of the mulberry posts into painted images of Ban Po “guardians,” based on the earliest-known art found in China, from the Neolithic Period.

When we moved to our new digs we knew that the piece was going to be removed, so we cut off three of the guardians’ heads and mounted them on a cross-cut slab from a huge dock piling to create another sculpture, “Ban Po Guardians (The Bamboo Curtain, Detail).”

Part of our sculpture “Conflict Series”

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