Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art: "The Underbelly Project"

Substandard Dining Table
Installation by Jeff Stark
(Image from The New York Times)

Well, this is something you don't see every day, an underground artshow closed to art critics, art dealers, auction-house representatives, and the public, according to author and art critic Jasper Rees in "Street Art Way Below the Street" (New York Times, October 31, 2010). Even the artists are unknown, or known only by pseudonyms:
That’s because the exhibition has been mounted, illegally, in a long-abandoned subway station . . . . The show's curators, street artists themselves, unveiled the project for a single night, leading this reporter on a two-and-a-half hour tour. Determined to protect their secrecy, they offered the tour on condition that no details that might help identify the site be published, not even a description of the equipment they used to get in and out. And since they were (and remain) seriously concerned about the threat of prosecution, they agreed only to the use of street-artist pseudonyms.
Prosecution for what?
[T]he legal risks were obvious. Charles F. Seaton, a spokesman for New York City Transit, described such incursions as "trespassing, punishable by law," and said "anyone caught defacing M.T.A. [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] property is subject to arrest and fine." Beyond that, [the two artists] Workhorse and PAC [who organized the project] worried that given anxiety about terrorism in the subway, a large-scale, long-term project like theirs might even lead to more serious charges.
Okay, I see why the artists want to protect their identities, but what about the writer, Mr. Jasper Rees, and his two-hour tour! Isn't that also trespassing? Why is he not worried about punishment? Grey Lady immunity? Or is he out of the country, back in merry old England? Don't we have an extradition treaty with the Brits?

While we consider that conundrum, let's ease our mind's eye by clicking over to "The Underbelly Project" itself, or for a slide show courtesy of the New York Times, or for a webpage of images courtesy of the LTV Squad.

Of course, we'll be crossing a line . . . and may be arrested by the images.

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At 5:09 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

Many thanks for posting this! Some of those graffiti are among the best ever street art I've happened to see ("see" directly or in books).

A very interesting book, published by Taschen, can be entirely read and watched online.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're welcome, Dario. When I saw the article in one of my newspapers yesterday, I knew that I just had to blog despite knowing little about graffiti.

If I'd had more time, I'd have linked this to Dostoevsky's Underground Man -- just to give things a literary twist.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:15 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

Dostoevsky's Underground Man

saw it adapted for the stage a couple of years ago in a theater here in Perugia, the main (basically the only) character been wonderfully played by the actor Gabriele Lavia.

the pun would not work in Italian, unfortunately: here the book is known as Memorie del sottosuolo, Memories from underground, but the "underground" as a train is called "metropolitana".

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Dario, you'll just have to see to it that the Italian language gets changed.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:47 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Well, they already speak a half-Englished language.

THE problem would be to change the Italian minds.

Or, to put some Ocean in between...

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

English is about half Latin anyway, so we're simply repaying the ancient favor.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:43 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

English is about half Latin anyway

and "total they mix" in Paradise Lost :-)

btw, the first ever fine underground art was in Pandemonium, by Mulciber.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That's also to be closed off to visitors . . . eventually.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:32 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

:-D :-D :-D

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Stop smiling -- we might be there to see it!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:21 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

"Go to heaven for the climate, to hell for the company." ---Mark Twain

At 4:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Purgatory - the worst of both worlds.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:06 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

8-O [emoticon]

THE BEST!!! it was Dante's version of Paradise Lost!

At 5:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But at least, it gets better.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:48 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

The same happy ending, indeed: Dante (last verse in Purgatorio) is "ready to reach the stars".

In PL, Eve and Adam take "their solitary way"... that will ultimately lead them to the starry glory. Dante will meet them in Paradiso / heaven.

And, all of them reach God "by underground".

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

First, the harrowing of hell . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:38 AM, Anonymous dhr said...


At 7:40 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

whatthehell... 2nd chance:


At 7:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Like a bat out of h...

Jeffery Hodges

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