Artist David Brooks installed this dune-like landscape in the middle of Manhattan

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David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012.

David Brooks – Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

Published: January 14, 2013

Last updated:

Introduction

Desert Rooftops by David Brooks is a 5,000-square-foot sculpture that is a wavy configuration of multiple asphalt-covered rooftops similar to those on suburban developments, McMansions and strip malls conjoined to resemble a rolling, dune-like landscape.

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

David Brooks – Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

Desert Rooftops

The piece examines issues of the natural and built landscape by comparing the monoculture that arises from unchecked suburban and urban sprawl with that of an over-cultivated landscape – creating a work that is picturesque, familiar and simultaneously foreboding. Brooks’ sculptural approach gives a nod to Robert Smithson’s earthworks and Gordon Matta-Clark’s building cuts while offering a much-needed sense of humor to help digest today’s somber environmental issues.

As housing communities devour more and more land and resources each year the outcome is equivalent to the very process of desertification. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines desertification as land degradation into arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including human activities and climatic variations derived from over-development, over-grazing, and an overworked land. The result is often a depleted landscape inhospitable to other life.

What happens when a suburban roof is transplanted to an urban block? In this film, artist David Brooks and a team of fabricators construct “Desert Rooftops” (2011--12), an Art Production Fund commission for the last undeveloped lot in Manhattan’s Times Square neighborhood.

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

David Brooks – Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

David Brooks – Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

Video

7 min 33 sec

Who is David Brooks?

David Brooks (b. 1975) is an American sculptor and installation artist, whose work considers the relationship between the individual and the built and natural environment. Brooks has exhibited large-scale installations at Dallas Contemporary, Miami Art Museum, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Bold Tendencies London, as well as American Contemporary and the Sculpture Center in New York. Brooks was featured in the 2010 Greater New York at MoMA PS1 and lives and works in NYC.

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

David Brooks – Desert Rooftops, 2011–12, asphalt shingled rooftops, wood, vinyl siding, metal interpretive signs, 16 x 92 x 54 feet, Times Square, New York, November 2011–February 2012

All Photos by James Ewing & Art Production Fund unless otherwise noted.

 

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