Here are some new works by French street artist Milo Project. Reminding me a lot of Mark Jenkins, Milo Project places realistic mannequins in the fetal position all over France. Below is a video of people’s reactions that is pretty funny even if you don’t speak French.
One of my roommates came by a few minutes ago and asked “So, did shit hit the fan?” He knew I was posting something about Underbelly yesterday, but he’s not really the artsy type so he didn’t know quite what it was.
Well indeed shit has hit the fan, but mostly in a good way so far. The Underbelly Project made it into The New York Times and The Age. Also, Ian Cox and Luna Park have posted their photos on their respective blogs. And their photos are much better than mine, so check them out.
It seems most people are liking the project, even if some have some reservations. As one commenter on my last post pointed out, maybe you had to be there to experience some of the awesomeness, but it’s still pretty cool. I think that’s a fair assessment. Some artists’ work is best viewed in person, and the best artworks in The Underbelly Project tend to fall into that category. Posterchild put up an interactive sculpture, and Dan Witz’ art is definitely more powerful when it comes as a surprise and in person.
But there’s been one criticism that I absolutely don’t buy: That The Underbelly Project was conceived and executed purely for commercial gain. Yeah, later this week I’ll be posting a trailer to a documentary about the project, but the organizers, who I think are two very bright people, would have to be complete idiots to do this project if their only interest was a sick book deal. Yeah, there are street artists and graffiti writers out there who do illegal work to get attention and doing well-promoted street art can sell a painting or two. I’ve called out people on doing things like that before. That said, the scale and risk of The Underbelly Project is greater than what could be often by any likely monetary rewards. It would be much easier and less risky to either fake the entire project in a warehouse somewhere or just do something that relies on one or two big events instead of a year of secrecy and dangerous activities. I highly doubt that The Underbelly Project will be an efficient way to make money for the participants, even with any future books or films or anything like that. When I was first told about The Underbelly Project, it was little more than an idea, and the idea was to create a secret street art and graffiti Mecca, not to make a million bucks.
Here are some more photos from down in the tunnel:
I’ll continue this week to post more photos, but you can check out a more full set of my images on flickr.
This summer, I sat in a massive pitch-black room and muttered “Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit…” over and over again. I couldn’t stop repeating “Holy shit” for maybe for five minutes. I’d been anticipating this moment for nearly a year. I was somewhere underneath New York City. I was waiting to be shown The Underbelly Project. Technically, I was there to take photos, but really I didn’t care at all if images came out or not. Really, I just wanted to see firsthand what was going on 4-stories below the streets of New York City.
Imagine Cans Festival, FAME Festival or Primary Flight: Some of street art and graffiti’s best artists all painting one spot. That’s kind of like The Underbelly Project. Except that The Underbelly Project took place in complete secrecy, in a mysterious location and without any authorization. Over the past year, The Underbelly Project has brought more than 100 artists to an abandoned and half-finished New York City subway station. Each artist was given one night to paint something.
Workhorse and PAC, the project’s organizers, have put countless hours into their ghost subway station, and now they’re finally ready to unveil it to the world, sort of (more on that later). So I guess that’s why I was in that dark room, sitting in silence, waiting for them to give me a flashlight. I’m still not sure why I’d been extended the invitation to see the station firsthand, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. The Underbelly Project is going to be part of street art history.
Eventually, Workhorse and PAC came over to where I was sitting and lent me a flashlight. I stood up, already coated in dust and probably dirtier than I’ve ever been, and got a full tour of the station. I’m not somebody who is good at estimating the size of a space, but The Underbelly Project took place in a space that was meant to be a subway station, so I guess it was the size of a subway station with a few tracks. The station is like a concrete cavern: random holes who-knows how deep into the ground, dust thick like a layer of dirt, leaky ceilings and hidden rooms. Except the whole station is covered in art. Think of FAME Festival’s abandoned monastery transplanted to beneath New York City. I’m not an urban explorer, so I had no idea that there are abandoned subway stations throughout New York, but The Underbelly Project seems like just about the best possible use of one.
Of course, having been down there myself, I’m going to be prone to hyperbole. Even at it’s simplest, even if The Underbelly Project is “just another mural project,” it’s a story that the artists can tell for years, and it may even be evidence that street art isn’t so far gone and corporate as some people have suggested.
The list of artists who painted for The Underbelly Project goes on and on, but here are just a few:
On my visit, The Underbelly Project wasn’t finished. In fact, somebody was painting there that night. Nonetheless, the space was already substantially painted and postered. I spent that night wandering around the tunnels, taking photos and getting lost (and also scared – Damn you Mark Jenkins! You can’t put a sculpture like that at the end of a darkened hall. I thought it was a person!).
And what now? The walls have all been painted and the artists have moved on to new projects. When the last artist finished painting the last wall, Workhorse and PAC made access to The Underbelly Project nearly impossible by removing the entrance. Even if any of us wanted to go back (and I do), even if we could remember how to get there (and I don’t), we can’t. Nobody can. For now, The Underbelly Project has become a time capsule of street art, somewhere in the depths of New York City.
Brad Downey once explained to me why he thought Damien Hirst’s diamond skull is interesting. It had something to do with what people would think of the skull in 1000 years, when its original meaning has been lost to time. That’s when the skull is going to become a true icon and object with immense power. In some ways, The Underbelly Project is like Hirst’s skull, without the price tag. One day, decades from now hopefully, somebody may rediscover that old subway station and have no idea what they’re looking at. Hopefully, they’ll just feel that it’s something incredibly special.
After a series of shows in LA over the summer, Lazarides Gallery‘s next pop-up show is taking place back home in London. Next month, they’ll be at The Old Vic Tunnels (aka, the Leake Street tunnels) for a group show: Hell’s Half Acre. The is only running from October 12-17th, but the list of artists is top notch: Polly Morgan, Vhils, Mark Jenkins, Bast, Todd James and more.
The entire show will be inspired by Dante’s Inferno and all the artists will making work based on their interpretations of hell.
The first few weeks in July, Mark Jenkins, and friends will be running around France installing interactive street works. Here are some of the pictures from their time in Royan.
July and 6th and 7th the band of artists will be in Pointe du Medoc, and in Bourdeaux from July 8th-10th
The full list of artists from the Jenkins run festival include:
Since the end of May until a few days ago, I’d been more or less cut off from the street art world. I was driving around Europe with my friends. That’s not particularly important, though I would like to thank Logan Hicks, Ripo, Paulo, C215, Nunca and (especially) Angelo for spending time with us.
Here’s some of the things that I missed while I was away…
Some local residents completely misinterpreted the meaning behind some Shepard Fairey murals and painted them over. Actually a really interesting story. I suppose that when it is a reality of everyday life, people don’t like to be reminded that the police will “kick your ass and get away with it.”
Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman, former gallery directors at Deitch Projects, have started up their own gallery in NYC called Hole. I’m not exactly sure how much street art or graffiti you’ll be able to find at the Hole when it opens later this month, but they sent me a press release, so presumably they haven’t ditched street art entirely. The Wall Street Journal has more.
Hrag Vartanian has started an interesting discussion on Hyperallergic about a new piece by Mark Jenkins which could easily be mistaken for trash. And by the way, if you don’t already read Hyperallergic, you should start. It’s perhaps my favorite art blog at the moment.
Armsrock has a solo show on right now at Signal Gallery. I’m going to check it out tomorrow, but based on the photos on Arrested Motion, I couldn’t be more excited. Armsrock is massively talented and just keeps getting better.
Last week, Carmichael Gallery took over the Ogilvy & Mather offices in New York for Re-creation II, a show with installations and/or paintings from Will Barras, Simon Birch, Boxi, Ethos, Mark Jenkins, Labrona, Aakash Nihalani, Nina Pandolfo and WK Interact. The show will be on until the end of July, so there’s plenty of time to stop by if you’re in New York.
All these Aakash Nihalani artworks look great next to each other:
My favorite part of Re-Creation II has to be all of the things that WK Interact did:
If you follow Elisa Carmichael on twitter, you may have noticed that she’s been dropping some hints recently about a big secret show that they’ve been planning. Well here it is: Re-Creation II features artwork from Will Barras, Simon Birch, Boxi, Ethos, Mark Jenkins, Labrona, Aakash Nihalani, Nina Pandolfo and WK Interact. I know Seth and Elisa have been working like crazy to pull this all together, and it sounds like it’s going to be amazing. They’ve flown some of their favorite artists to New York to work on installations in the space, and with the show running for so many months, plenty of people will have a chance to see what’s created.
In collaboration with Carmichael Gallery, Ogilvy & Mather New York will host Re-Creation II, a global exploration of emerging art, from March 5th through July 2010.
The exhibit will be held at the new Ogilvy & Mather headquarters on New York City’s West Side at 636 11th Avenue. Re-Creation II will showcase some of the most important emerging contemporary artists from around the world.
Large-scale murals, installations and original canvas, sculpture and mixed media works will be on display from Will Barras, Simon Birch, Boxi, Ethos, Mark Jenkins, Labrona, Aakash Nihalani, Nina Pandolfo and WK Interact. Many of these artists, who are based in the UK, Hong Kong, Germany, Brazil, the US and Canada, have never shown in New York before, and have never shown together.
Ogilvy & Mather will transform five floors and the lobby space of its new headquarters in The Chocolate Factory into a museum-quality exhibition space. As viewers ascend each floor, they can experience the upward momentum of the artwork. Re-Creation II is the second exhibit to be hosted by Ogilvy & Mather in its new space. It follows the inaugural Re-Creation exhibit, which featured the work of 12 emerging artists who use recycled materials to create unique forms of art. That exhibit will also be viewable through the end of March.
The opening reception of the exhibit will be held on Friday, March 5 with several of the artists in attendance at Ogilvy & Mather. The exhibition will run through July 31, 2010. Opening on March 5th in the middle of the Armory Art Fair week, the exhibition will run through the end of July 2010.
Doors are open to the viewing public, by appointment only, Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm by contacting Jun Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a side note, this is the 1000th post on Vandalog. Almost a year and a half in, we’ve averaged over 2 posts per day, posting almost every single day.
Aakash Nihalani and Mark Jenkins’ solo shows at the Carmichael Gallery opened last week. Both Mark and Aakash have really pushed forward with these shows. Aakash was able to show that he doesn’t just a one-trick-pony and that he is more than just his tape pieces, and Mark continues to amuse and amaze me with his new sculptures.