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November 27, 2016

All you can eat vegan brunch in a room that looks and feels like…

All you can eat vegan brunch in a room that looks and feels like…

All you can eat vegan brunch in a room that looks and feels like an old dungeon. The spread here is insane: piles of vegan meats and cheeses, toast, pretzels, tofu scramble, sausage and beans, creamed spinach, an assortment of fried meat and vegetable fritters, sushi, fruit, granola, spreads, and the best potato soup I’ve had in ages. Only on the weekends. A must in Berlin. #vegan #berlin (at Viasko Berlin)

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Art Find: The New York Earth Room & The Broken Kilometer

SoHo may be scrubbed, polished and bedazzled to within an inch of its life, but hidden among the boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants are a few small remnants of SoHo’s past as the heart of New York’s (and possibly the country’s, and – am I going too far? – the world’s) art scene.

The New York Earth Room (1977) occupies a sprawling second floor loft overlooking Wooster Street. A small, discreet sign at the street door is the only clue of its existence – ringing the doorbell and waiting to be buzzed in elicits the same exhilarating thrill as sneaking into the coolest secret VIP party. Arriving upstairs, the first glimpse of 280,000 pounds of loamy soil filling an otherwise empty loft is strangely stirring. The air is heavy with the pungent dampness of the installation, which Bill Dilworth; the Earth Room’s long-term caretaker; has been diligently raking and watering continuously for the last 23 years.

This is one of two installations by conceptual artist Walter De Maria (a contemporary of Judd, Warhol, and Beuys, not to mention his stint as drummer for the Velvet Underground) that have been on permanent display since the 1970s; stubborn relics of SoHo’s grittier past.

Around the corner on West Broadway is the second installation; The Broken Kilometer (1979); occupying a vast ground level space. 500 polished brass rods are meticulously arranged in perfect rows, the spacing between each rod varying by a matter of millimeters as they recede from view. It’s both spectacular in its scale, and visually dazzling; the rods appear to ripple like the surface of a golden pool of water stretching toward the horizon.

These installations have lost none of their relevance and potency since being first displayed in the 70s, yet somehow the steady transformation of New York and the intense gentrification of SoHo in particular has given the works another layer of meaning (The real estate value of a sun-filled loft in the heart of SoHo is an uncomfortable truth that will strike a cord with any New Yorker). The passing of time has also not gone unnoticed at The Broken Kilometer, where the dedicated staff painstakingly polish the rods and assess the settling of the building every two years, propping up the rods at individual heights to ensure they stay perfectly level – even as the historic floorboards shift and sag away below them.

A visit to these curiously moving fragments of New York history is essential for anyone who has ever romanticized the golden age of the SoHo art scene of the 70s and 80s – between, of course, shopping and cocktails.

http://www.diaart.org/sites/main/earthroom
The New York Earth Room
141 Wooster Street, New York

http://www.diaart.org/sites/main/53
The Broken Kilometer
393 West Broadway, New York

Earth Room Broken Kilometer NYC | meltingbutter.com Art Hotspot1Walter De Maria, The New York Earth Room, 1977. Long-term installation, 141 Wooster Street, New York City. Photo: John Cliett

Earth Room Broken Kilometer NYC | meltingbutter.com Art Hotspot2Photo: Benedikt Josef

Benedikt Josef | Melting Butter ContributorBenedikt is Melting Butter’s NYC-based design editor. He’s also a freelance architect, designer and writer with work that’s grounded in a strong multi-disciplinary focus, encompassing architecture, interiors, product design, curation and visual communication. Right now, Benedikt’s creative projects include an illustrated book, a site-specific art installation in the Manhattan streetscape, and several ongoing creative collaborations.Read about Benedikt’s favorite hotspots here

Feature Photo: Walter De Maria, The Broken Kilometer, 1979. Long-term installation, 393 West Broadway, New York City. Photo: Jon Abbott

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