New York

Walter de Maria

Heiner Friedrich Gallery

Walter de Maria’s The Broken Kilometer invites questions about rates of exchange, principally because the 500 two-meter-long brass cylinders look like substitutes for gold bricks. The gallery had an aura of Fort Knox, what with dazzling halide lighting illuminating the five rows of perfectly spaced cylinders. The Romans were the first to alloy copper and zinc to make brass, and, not surprisingly, they used the alloy for coins.

Is this highly polished, highly allusive installation part and parcel of the current rage for exhibitions of precious metals (e.g. Scythian gold)? At least one wag predicts next year the Met will sponsor an exhibition called, simply, “The Cash Show.” Granted, brass is not precious, and the diminishing silver content in coins rates our currency as only semi-precious now, too. De Maria’s installation proposes a brass standard to replace the gold, a metric system to

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