New York City is a small town. It just so happens that when you fall into one circle, you get around. And so it is that I interviewed a photographer some time ago to speak about his work taken in abandoned buildings. And as we spoke he mentioned something I did not expect. It was he who inadvertently lead the way for The Underbelly Project.
The photographer is not named in the book’s introduction but described as the stranger who brought PAC into the abandoned train station that would become home to the greatest installation the world has never seen. Collected for the first time in We Own the Night: The Art of the Underbelly Project (Rizzoli International Publications), curators Pac and Workhorse, in conjunction with Emeht Agency, have created a magnificent volume showcasing a form that has become the darling of the art world. That form is street art, which holds tremendous appeal for its ability to be at once both anti-authoritarian and commercially viable at the same time.
The curators amassed a group of 103 current practitioners of the form and invited them to paint in this abandoned train station. The artists, who include some of the medium’s biggest names, including Swoon, Faile, Revok, and Ron English, among many others, were invited to paint in the station between March 2009 and August 2010. Throughout the process of installing these pieces, photography was used to capture what would never be seen by the masses….