We Own the Night: The Art of the Underbelly Project

Overview

From early 2009 to mid-2010, the Underbelly Project was the world’s best-kept urban art secret. This is the only book documenting the project, during which the world’s leading urban artists, such as Swoon, Faile, Revok, and Lister, made late-night trips to an abandoned New York City subway station, painting night after night to transform the space into the largest underground art gallery in the world.

When curators Workhorse and PAC declared the project finished, there was no ...

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Hardcover New From early 2009 to mid-2010, the Underbelly Project was the world's best-kept urban art secret. This is the only book documenting the project, during which the ... world's leading urban artists, such as Swoon, Faile, Revok, and Lister, made late-night trips to an abandoned New York City subway station, painting night after night to transform the space into the largest underground art gallery in the world. When curators Workhorse and PAC declared the project finished, there was no opening to show the work. In fact, the space's location remains a secret kept by the MTA, which boarded up the space, making it, like the cave of Lascaux, a time capsule for future generations to discover. The book includes three hundred photographs documenting the project and the participating artists' stories of secret expeditions, ranging from the hilarious to the suspenseful. With texts from artists such as Dan Witz, Elbow Toe, Jeff Soto, Miya Ando, and Ron English, the result is an extraordinary contribution to u Read more Show Less

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Overview

From early 2009 to mid-2010, the Underbelly Project was the world’s best-kept urban art secret. This is the only book documenting the project, during which the world’s leading urban artists, such as Swoon, Faile, Revok, and Lister, made late-night trips to an abandoned New York City subway station, painting night after night to transform the space into the largest underground art gallery in the world.

When curators Workhorse and PAC declared the project finished, there was no opening to show the work. In fact, the space’s location remains a secret kept by the MTA, which boarded up the space, making it, like the cave of Lascaux, a time capsule for future generations to discover.

The book includes three hundred photographs documenting the project and the participating artists’ stories of secret expeditions, ranging from the hilarious to the suspenseful. With texts from artists such as Dan Witz, Elbow Toe, Jeff Soto, Miya Ando, and Ron English, the result is an extraordinary contribution to urban history and the annals of street art. 

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In several senses, it was the ultimate underground art project. For approximately a year and a half, beginning in early 2009, several of New York's most talented public artists secretly ventured into one of the city's long-abandoned stations and created murals. As the so-called Underbelly Project expanded, the diversity of the artwork proliferated; eventually ranging from the confrontational to the playful. With stories from the artists participating and three hundred photographs, this unique paperback documents this fascinating epoch in urban art. (P.S. No, you can't visit the Underbelly Project. At the behest of Gotham subway authorities, the IND station gallery has now been securely boarded up.)

Michelle Marozik

Publishers Weekly
Having discovered a never-completed subway station in Brooklyn, two street artists—Workhorse and PAC—brought in artists from around the world to reclaim the space with original artwork. From the spring of 2009 to the summer of the following year, the Underbelly, as it came to be called, became a subterranean gallery, accessible only to those few who knew where to find it. Conceived in part as a commentary on the commodification of street art, notable figures such as Ron English, graffiti progenitor Haze, as well as the lesser known Dick Chicken and Indigo, sometimes hid from MTA workers or police in complete darkness for hours. Works such as Mint & Serf's graffiti inflected dismantling of the American flag a la Jasper Johns or Trustocorp's deconstruction of commercial art resonate with more conceptual pieces, such as Jeff Stark's site-specific performance, in which the tuxedo clad artist served a multi-course dinner to two well-dressed friends in the underground space. The works in the Underbelly deliberately set themselves outside of traditional spaces for art and commerce, destined to be largely unseen firsthand. It is fitting—though tragic—that shortly after word of the space reached the press, the MTA sealed off access to the station. This book itself then becomes a testament to art for its own sake, an artifact of a project that posed the provocative question: "If no one will see it, will it still be important?" Color photos. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"The book, most significantly, let's us view the underbelly project with an unprecedented degree of completion. Workhorse and PAC closed the doors to the station after they deemed the painting complete. There was no exhibition, no opening, and only small glimpses of its glory emerged for public consumption —just a few articles and an exhibition. The remarkable thing about the project, aside from simply discovering uncharted territory beneath NYC, is the breadth of of contributors to this secret, subterranean gallery." ~Complex

"In the new book We Own the Night, one hundred artists and their works are documented in over two hundred images exploring the space and the process of the Underbelly project. The gallery’s location remains a secret kept by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, making it a time capsule for future generations." ~The Last Magazine

"This book itself then becomes a testament to art for its own sake, an artifact of a project that posed the provocative question: 'If no one will see it, will it still be important?'" ~Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789324955
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 2/7/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 12.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Workhorse is a New York–based urban artist who has shown his work around the world. He considers the Underbelly Project the ultimate forum to spotlight urban subculture. PAC is a native New Yorker, artist, and activist. His artwork revolves around the intersection of public and private media in our shared environments. Eric Haze aka HAZE is a well-known New York graffiti artist and designer. Some of his works include the now iconic early hip-hop logos for Public Enemy, EPMD, LL Cool J, and others.

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