Atelier Deep, Concept High

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Art has really gone underground with NYC’s artistic community’s latest effort to tap into one of the city’s more out-of-the-way venues for creative expression: an abandoned subway station. Beginning last year, The Underbelly Project secretly escorted 103 artists into the lower depths of the subway and onto an “unfinished, unused and undiscovered” station. Their mission: create works of art throughout the length and breadth of this dark and crumbling canvass.

Working with various paints and aerosols, these (in every sense of the term) “underground artists” created a numerous assortment of murals and installments that range from the luridly whimsical to the provocatively grotesque. Conceptual art rarely had a better atelier for profound expression than deep within mass transportation’s inner recesses.

Stepping into the station was like stepping into a space outside of time. Utterly devoid of light, there was no way to mark the passage of time except for the occasional dull roar of a train in the distance. I had only a flashlight to light my way, yet it only barely cut into the inky blackness of the station. The air was cool and damp. My every step kicked up swirls of the rail dust that blanketed every surface. If it hadn’t been for the reassuring presence of familiar art adorning the walls, I might have quickly succumbed to the illusion that I’d arrived amidst the remnants of a forgotten city. RWK Street Spot

Unfortunately, while this is a unique and noble effort, it’s also an illegal action: trespassing on city property. I would imagine that the project’s future remains uncertain…alongside my personal wishes for its success. Such startling resourcefulness out of the city’s startling failures is no small feat indeed.

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see Gothamist (photo gallery)

originally posted: 11/03/2010

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