Dune-like landscape in the middle of Manhattan

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011 - 1

Desert Rooftops by David Brooks is a 5,000-square-foot sculpture that is an 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.

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.

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 - 2

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011 - 3

David Brooks - Desert Rooftops, 2011 - 4

All Photos by James Ewing/artproductionfund.org unless otherwise noted.


7min 33sec

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.

Discover more ..


Last updated on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Stay in touch

We would love to keep the conversation going.

Please join us on Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram.

Want inspiration in your inbox?

Public Delivery