The New York Earth Room
Walter De Maria’s Earth Room is somewhere we find ourselves going time and time again, either for transitory moments of tranquility and solitude, or to ignite inspiration. Tucked above endless rows of downtown boutiques lining Soho’s crowded cobblestoned streets, is a thirty-six-hundred-square-foot loft known as The New York Earth Room; a surreal installation by the late New York-based artist and leader of the 1970s Land Art movement, Walter De Maria.
The all white, otherwise empty space perched atop the second floor of the Wooster Street building it inhabits, is filled with 140 tons of dirt, unchanged and untouched since 1977; which seems especially poignant today given contemporary society’s conversations surrounding the perils of climate change. Like much of De Maria’s work, The Earth Room deals with massive scales, both relating to time and space, through the complex dialogue it generates between the installation and its environment.
The beauty of living in New York City is discovering culture in the most unassuming of places, and it is always surprising to hear how many people have never visited The Earth Room or are unaware of its existence.