Nov 2nd 2010 By Laura Leu
Deep in the belly of New York City
lies a ghost town of a subway station, where the trains don't run, but street art thrives. For the past 18 months, 103 artists have been covertly sneaking into the space to create and display their work on the dank walls of the pit.
Combining street art
with spelunking, The Underbelly Project
is a real collection of works that exists four stories beneath the surface of the City. But good luck finding it.
Street artists Workhorse
and PAC curated the underground exhibit in an abandoned subway station, but the exact location won't be released to the public, for fear of legal repercussions. (If caught trespassing on or defacing MTA property
, they could be arrested and fined.)
Each of the 103 artists had one night to finish his or her piece. One by one, Workhorse or PAC led them to the space -- which entailed a difficult and dangerous process of waiting for the active station's platform to clear and then maneuvering through an old entrance to the abandoned tracks of yore -- where they let their creative juices flow
It wasn't always easy. Some nights, MTA officials would shut down the nearby subway line to work on the track, forcing the artists to remain silent and turn out their lights for long stretches of time. "We were going crazy," artist Patrick McNeil told The New York Times
, "We were like, 'We've got to get the hell out of this dusty blackness.' You couldn't see your hand in front of your face."
The project took a year and a half to put together and includes work from well-known graffiti artists like Ron English
. Most of the works are murals painted directly onto the walls, but one installation by Jeff Stark
features a dining table set in the middle of the track bed, complete with candles, wine and flowers. Sounds romantic ... until you factor in all the rats
Since no one knows where this gallery is and collectors can't buy the art, what's the point of even having an exhibit? Street artist Workhorse tells the Times
that they want it "to become part of the folklore of the urban art scene."
To make sure it remains folkloric, the curators destroyed all the equipment they used to reach the space, making it even more difficult for the average urban explorer to find. Warns Workhorse
, "If you go in there and break your neck, nobody's going to hear you scream."
So, if you prefer your art with the added dangers of possible quadriplegia, we recommend you try to find it.