The Little Dig


Performance; temporary non-monetary economy and earth sculpture performed in the shadow of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and on the former site of the “Big Dig” infrastructure project.

Materials: Excavated soil from a private residence in Peabody, Massacusetts, acquired for free through an internet posting; shovel; garbage bags; station wagon; Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy staff and backhoe; signage; internet posting advertising free soil; South Shore gardener

Duration: 6 days; Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM; Saturday 10AM until all the soil was gone


Inspired by two generations of libertarian communalist gardeners, both called the Diggers (Britain, 1649-51; San Francisco, 1966-68), the performance establishes a grassroots infrastructure in the loopholes of capitalist modes of production and exchange. A pile of free dirt excavated during a home renovation in Peabody, MA is acquired using craigslist. At the beginning of the work week, Monday May 11, the load of dirt is deposited on the Dewey Square Park lawn, across the street from the Fed. Over the course of the week, the soil is processed appropriately, according to its state upon arrival: nutrient and pH tests are conducted; coffee grounds from neighboring cafes are dug in as amendments; rocks are screened out. A public announcement, also diffused using craigslist, invites people to a giveaway of the remediated soil on Saturday May 16. The performance ends once all the dirt is taken away by a single gardener, to be added to a home vegetable garden in Boston’s South Shore.


Gina Badger, 2009.

Creative Commons License
This work by Gina Badger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Thanks for logistical support from the MIT Visual Arts Program, the BCA Mills Gallery, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the MIT Insurance office. Partial funding provided by the MIT Council for the Arts.

Top left image credit: Caitlin Berrigan

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