The Last Dirt Farmer.
January 7, 2009 10:42 AM   Subscribe

A Loft Filled with Dirt, the Man Who's Cared for it for 19 Years is a short film about Bill Dilworth, who has maintained Walter De Maria's installation, The New York Earth Room for the past 19 years. One of three "Earth Room" pieces De Maria made in the 1960's and 70's, the NY project is the only one still in existence.
posted by R. Mutt (26 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Photography of the Earth Room is not permitted. It is a work of art intended to be experienced.

You fail at documentary filmmaking, WNYC. Pix or it didn't happen.
posted by dersins at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

That said, this seems like a pretty cool installation, and I'd never heard of it before, so thanks, R. Mutt.
posted by dersins at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2009

oo thanks :B i actually took a clod of dirt from there on one visit but don't tell him >.>
posted by muymuy at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2009

De Maria also created Lightning Field, which is a huge grid of metal poles set in a grid on a large piece of land in New Mexico. I would really love to see it in action one day.
posted by picea at 11:21 AM on January 7, 2009

I consider myself to be pretty artsy-fartsy, but I just don't get this one. Maybe you have to live in the city to understand.
posted by aliasless at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2009

Yeah, must be a deep-city thing. Strange to think dirt is a novelty item for some.
posted by echo target at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2009

I like it! This is true art in my book.

It's not the dirt, it's the context.
posted by fairmettle at 11:51 AM on January 7, 2009

It's a lovely thing. When I lived in NYC I used to visit it pretty often and just stand there and take in the dirt. It smells nice. It's a lot of dirt. It looks slightly different every time you're there and I'm very glad it is still there, especially given all the trouble surrounding Dia for the last few years.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2009

Strange to think dirt is a novelty item for some.

From the third link:

Total weight of sculpture: 280,000 lbs. (127,300 kilos)

That's a fucking lot of dirt.
posted by dersins at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2009

This is why art is weird. I don't get this installation at all, but I still think it's really cool.
posted by HauteMama at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2009

One of my favorite places in the city, The Earth Room.

And yeah, I think you do have to be a deep-city person to really dig it. ahem

I'd been living here about a year when I heard about it and made the time to find the loft and go. Having grown up in the rural midwest, the smell of dirt wasn't something I thought I would ever miss, but the minute I walked into the loft, even before I rounded the corner and saw the dirt, I was just overwhelmed by it And, too, the absence of that smell in my life since coming to the city was made suddenly clear. Which sounds strange, I know, but ... dirt. DIRT! Lots of it, slightly moist ... it's a very specific, evocative smell.

I've spent time there now and again ever since. Usually have my eyes closed most of the visit.
posted by minervous at 11:56 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

OK I need to know,,,can one walk on it? Or is that part of the Art of it?
posted by Gungho at 12:03 PM on January 7, 2009

In Kansas they have an exhibit consisting of a room filled with with graffiti, winos, and dogshit.
posted by exogenous at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Art is so weird sometimes. But minervous' account made me realize that a picture does not do it justice.
posted by Vindaloo at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

can one walk on it?

No way.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:39 PM on January 7, 2009

Walk on art? What, are you crazy?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

What about the micro-organisms in the "dirt"? Or has it been sterilized? People often call soil "dirt" but it is full of living things. The biomass of organisms in the top layer of soil in a field is greater than the mass of a herd of cows grazing in the field. So this could be a micro-zoo as well as art.
posted by binturong at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2009

Bill Dilworth is a good friend of my parents. He's a really nice and terrific fellow. They bought a couple of his paintings and they're hanging up in the living room, and are pretty nice. He seems much more subdued and wise-old-man-ish in this movie than I know him in person. Super funny guy.
posted by Corduroy at 12:53 PM on January 7, 2009

I would like to see this go up for auction at Sotheby's, and be transported and installed at someone's Zurich estate.
posted by terranova at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, must be a deep-city thing. Strange to think dirt is a novelty item for some.

I'm from NC and a few years ago I was at an aircraft museum in San Diego. They have a little box of sand from Kitty Hawk, and I couldn't wait to tell everybody back home about it. They all laughed.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:05 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't believe I wasted my time watching half of this video. How irrelevant.
posted by look busy at 4:04 PM on January 7, 2009

Mud Wrasslin' in the Earth Room! Yes!
posted by unknowncommand at 5:48 PM on January 7, 2009

Look, Bobby! I found some dirt!
posted by adipocere at 7:02 PM on January 7, 2009

Cool fact: Walter De Maria was the drummer in the Primitives, a precursor to the Velvet Underground that included both Lou Reed and John Cale. The fourth member of the group was the minimalist composer/avant-garde filmmaker Tony Conrad.
posted by jonp72 at 9:18 PM on January 7, 2009

Oh man, I was just writing a post about this today and found that you'd done this two days earlier. Hooray. This New York Times article has some fun pull quotes about it.
posted by jessamyn at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2009

It smells great and it feels alive and humid and the sound (or muffling of city noise) really makes you feel different when you're in there.
posted by eve harrington at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2009

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