There are timeless pieces of art and timeless ensembles in fashion, as there are timeless pieces in all forms of creative endeavors. In the world of artists, we see consistent change, yet there is always a piece we relate back to in some way, shape, or form. And in a city like New York, where fashions consistently are on a whirlwind of change, and where, yes, we can see that Picasso, that Richard Avedon original print, but we only can for so long (during the always too short time frame when you just could not make it because you had to walk your dog, or something of that nature).This city is forever evolving to showcase the newer version of the new, and that timeless art piece gets its showing, but only for so long. Because, hey, its time to move on, and give the people what they want.
Architecture is the one form of art that is able to continue its reign and showcase its beauty for a seeming eternity. A building is meant to last for a long time. What I would not expect to last in this city is art that takes over an entire room for 45 years to date. Especially within the context of exorbitant rent in Soho. Welcome to “The Earth Room”, which has held strong and been untouched since 1977.
Having heard about this for some time, I decided I had to go and see what had been preserved for seemingly forever. I enter 141 Wooster street, and enter a room swathed with 280,000 lbs of dirt. First thought was “Am I in the right place?”. A sheet of plexi-glass separated myself and the art installation. Apparently, the number of visitors has doubled since last year, and according to the Washington Post, Bill Dillworth, the keeper of “Earth Room” for over 2 decades said this is because of “”Earth, we’re in a recession, and the ‘Earth Room’ is free. Second, it’s a sanctuary in crisis. Safe, and priestly.”
Artist Walter De Maria, creator of “The Earth Room” was formerly a part of the Velvet Underground rock band, and an esteemed figure of 20th century minimal art. Founded by the Dia Foundation, Heiner Freidrich (one of the founders), said “Bring the art to a place, and let it speak over time.”
This room seemingly filled with just a bunch of dirt stands for something much greater – it stands for experiencing the change of humanity, and allowing our imaginations to run wild. A blank palette, for all artists and art lovers alike to create and visualize their thoughts and dreams and make it their own. De Maria wants his art to be experienced directly, or not at all. I can see why. What may sound like a potential idea for the flooring of a kitschy Surf Bar, speaks volumes. I was lost in my thoughts, amazed and intrigued, trying to understand what kept this prime piece of real estate locked up. For me, I came, and lost myself in my own thoughts, and left with my own conclusions.
De Maria’s “Earth Room” is located at 141 Wooster Street in New York, NY.