The mysterious Underbelly Project is making the rounds online today. According to its site, somewhere in NYC there's an abandoned subway station, "unfinished, unused and undiscovered." Starting in 2009, 103 artists were secretly escorted into the space to create works of art, encompassing installations, paintings, aerosol, murals and more. Each artist was given one full night to work on their piece. At the end of the project, the original entrance to the station was removed.
There is a major feature on the hard-to-locate illegal project in The Sunday Times (paywall); the writer was brought into the space by the show's curators, who go by Workhorse and PAC. They describe part of their manifesto:
People were going out and literally sawing walls in half to steal Banksy pieces. Electrical panels were being ripped off leaving live wires exposed that had Shepard Fairey stencils on them. It was commercialism at its worst. Early in the street-art years, I relished the ability to feel like I was my own island. The Underbelly was our way of feeling like we were an island again. We finally had a space in the world that collectors couldn’t contaminate. A space that couldn’t be bought.
RWK Street Spot got to see the project, and wrote:
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.
According to LTV Squad, some of the artists who participated include Sane, Swoon, Roa, Mark Jenkins, TrustoCorp, Posterchild. Demer, Jice, F5, Smells, Cash4, and many more.
According to a subway graffiti expert we spoke with, it could be the abandoned station under the South 4th Street stop in Williamsburg, or possibly under the Shell station at Utica Ave. and Fulton Street. You can see more exclusive photos of the project here.
Update: We spoke to a subway stations expert, who wrote: "I agree it looks like IND construction, but I can't tell which it is. I would lean toward South 4th because (1) one piece refers to "the people upstairs" suggesting it's below the open station and (2) that's where the hipsters are." For a slightly different perspective on the project, you can see a short video tour of the installation now on the NY Times website.