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Best Art Installation for Causing a Yelp Conflagration

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The New York Earth Room, a permanent installation of Walter De Maria’s Earth Room sculpture, has occupied part of a Soho loft with 250 cubic yards of dirt since 1977. The piece hasn’t changed since then — same dirt, same caretaker — but our ability to publicly air our grievances has, and the Earth Room’s Yelp page reveals its subject as a Rorschach test for malaise about both installation art and New York’s soaring real estate values. Positive reviews almost uniformly praise the solace to be found in the room’s tranquil, musty atmosphere. But the one- and two-star reviews are more evocative, variously terming the multimillion-dollar mound “extravagant wastefulness,” “perverted,” “ridiculous,” and simply “a pile of shit.” People are profoundly disturbed, it sometimes seems to the point of crisis, by the installation’s continued refusal to serve a purpose besides just existing. We can only hope that De Maria, who died in 2013, got to read a few of these comments. Zoë Beery

141 Wooster Street, Manhattan

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