Yes, We Have Art

Atlas Obscura

There’s an odd “library” plopped in the desert of New Mexico.  Inspired by American artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s site-specific work from 1973 “Fake Estates,” it was meant to poke fun at those businesses and individuals who were at the time buying up acres of land on Mars for their own utopian desert plots.

The strange sight is the work of Cabinet, a New York-based magazine of art and culture that was founded in 2000. In 2003 the nonprofit announced it had acquired a plot of land in Luna County. The magazine dubbed the turf, over 2,000 miles from its offices in Brooklyn, “Cabinetlandia.”

The library was added in 2004. Essentially, it’s a file cabinet cemented into a concrete arch on the rectangular bit of land. According to its creator, Matthew Passmore, the idea was to “make it look like the cabinet grew naturally out of the landscape; as if, in Cabinetlandia, cabinets are naturally occurring elements of the ecosystem.”

About a year after christening the land with the Cabinet mailbox, Passmore borrowed a minivan and drove the supplies out to build what is lovingly called the Cabinet National Library. He stocked the top drawer with a library card catalog, a guestbook, a pillow to sit on while you read, and an umbrella to shade you. The middle drawer contains the first 13 issues of Cabinet, and the bottom drawer, as he left it, contained warm beer, water, and size-10 men’s boots (for avoiding rattlesnakes, apparently).

In 2005 when Passmore went to fix the damage from heavy rains, he added the graveyard, a spiral stone formation, and, for good measure, arranged a toilet shape out the same stones for a “biodegradable water closet.”

Cabinetlandia has drawn more visitors than the folks at Cabinet initially expected.


Know Before You Go

Cabinetlandia is located 10 miles east of the town of Deming in Luna County, New Mexico, off Interstate 10 heading east.

7 thoughts on “Yes, We Have Art

    1. Valerie! Hello, old friend. I’ve been completely out of commission. I hope you are well. I checked your blog – your posts blow me away: each one so dense, packed with insight, information, and feeling.. Have a lovely holiday XXXX


      1. Dear Claire Marie Thank you so much for the lovely things you say, so good to see you again… while you’ve been out if commission ( and I had been wondering how you were, and how all your health challenges were going ) my life has completely changed too.. I popped ancient and infirm husband into a luxury rest home which took all my money, and then ‘ran–off’ with a beautiful American fifteen years younger than me, who I’d met through our blogs. That was two and a half years ago, and we are blissfully living in a forest, and building a house around the tiny cabin we inherited. We own a mountain, streams and forty acres of dense forest , home to endangered and otherwise extinct species of bird, frogs, lizards, butterflies ferns etc… My family were appalled and don’t accept it… but we are so happy… we wrote over two thousand letters to each other before taking the plunge, and like me, my love left everything behind to come here… so we are quite poor, but very happy !!!!
        Not bad for nearly eighty, eh !!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. An interesting installation – I assume people leave stuff in the bottom drawer. I’ve ridden mountain bikes in the desert around Santa Fe with my cousins that live there – and come across a few bits of improvised art (mostly small Stonehenge copies).

    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I wonder what they leave. Maybe they mention it in the guest book. One thing I know for sure is that no local ever used the sun umbrella. They all wear cowboy hats or baseball caps.
      Thanks a lot for writing!


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