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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Underbelly Project - Why I love New York Pt 1

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, does it make a sound? If over 100 street artists create intriguing, original work that no one can see, is it there? How about work created in a secret underground location known only to the artists and a select few. A never finished subway station, long abandoned, then rediscovered and tagged with intriguing images, then abandoned to the stuff of urban legend. This is The Underbelly Project. And it models a vision right out of the work of William Gibson where part of the plot of the second book in his latest trilogy focuses on virtual art only visible to a select few.

In The Underbelly Project, an abandoned subway station in the bowels of New York City serves as the exhibit site. And an excellent article in the New York Times describes the event and how it came about. The exhibit celebrates the punk sensibility of street art. In another era, it would be the surrealist or the dada sensibility. You could say the process of making the art makes its own statement - it's Art for Art's sake.
So why am I writing about this? I like the sheer audacity that they did it. I like that two street artist/curators saw the opportunity and went for it. And that 100 artists saw the elegant irony of their vision and went for it, too. That they did it for the fun and exuberance of it. And then to be thrust instantly into the mists of urban legend. And the best work, as you'll see in the slide show and video that accompanies the article, conjures the mystery of the unseen and unknown. And in an almost perverse way, it celebrates the vibrancy of America's greatest city. A city where anything seems possible.

1 comment:

Bob James said...

This kind of art is pure Existentialism, a 100% acte gratuit. I love it. I've always admired Christo for the reason that his art, by intent, is a public performance. It comes into existence and goes out of existence within a two-week span. It cannot end up inside a museum, under the control of fickle donors and arts administrators.