Best use of astronomically expensive Soho real estate (2008)

Broken Kilometer

If time is money, then the nearly 30-year run of these enormous installation pieces by Walter De Maria amounts to a thumb in the eye of capitalism. Meditative and mathematical, the Broken Kilometer keeps its profound silence in an otherwise clamorous stretch of corporate boutiques. De Maria spaced and elevated the 500 brass rods, each two meters long, in five rows to provide a seamless perspective from the front to the back of 393 West Broadway. Polishing the rods takes about a month, with a crew of half a dozen laboring away in the prime loft space. A couple of blocks away, at 141 Wooster Street, is the New York Earth Room, an artwork that comes pre-audited: It's a pile of dirt, basically, with 250 cubic yards of earth packed 22 inches deep, taking up 3,600 square feet, and weighing 280,000 pounds. You won't find either announced with particular fanfare from the street, nor can you glimpse the exhibits from the sidewalk. Each summer, the exhibitions close down for maintenance, including, in the case of the Earth Room, weeding. Admission is free. Or priceless.


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