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 of 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.”
Update May 2018: Cabinetlandia has drawn more visitors than the folks at Cabinet initially expected. People have added to the contents of the cabinets including more guest books, manuscripts, and edible supplies. The boots have been replaced by size 7 women’s Merrell hiking boots. The middle cabinet drawer recently did not open.