When news leaked of the Underbelly Project gallery at an abandoned subway station somewhere in New York, I assumed that the MTA would quickly identify the site and shut down porous access. It took of us intrigued by and obsessed with abandoned stations just a quick glance to identify the gallery site as the South 4th Street station, and today, I was able to confirm that the art is indeed in this IND Second System shell station. The MTA figured it out too and pledged better security.
I asked the authority about their official response to the so-called exhibition, and it was as you might expect. “NYC Transit is working with the NYPD in the investigation and follow-up on this matter,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said. “Further inspections will be made to this and other similar locations throughout the system to better secure these areas. We remind the public that any such incursions into unauthorized areas of the transit system is considered trespassing and is punishable by law not to mention, dark and dangerous.”
Meanwhile, I learned this morning as well that an MTA work crew went into the old South 4th Street station to explore the site. They were spotted entering the shell at the northbound end of the Broadway stop on the G train, and Donovan told me that the authority’s crews are working to identify potential access points and to seal up these abandoned areas. “New York City Transit staff were on site today to assess the station’s security and make some adjustments to make it more secure,” Donovan said.
As the video above from Jason Eppink — the artist behind this summer’s Spoiler Alert signs and a 2008 subway chair installation — shows, it is indeed dark and dangerous, and it appears as though at least one site access point requires walking along or through subway tracks. More scenes from the makeshift gallery have reached the Internet as well. Wall Kandy offers up a blog post and a flickr photo gallery. These photos are from July 30-August 1, and I have to wonder what time and other graffiti artists have done to the project in the intervening three months.
We won’t, it seems, learn that answer from the MTA. Although an MTA crew got to explore a long lost part of a planned subway expansion, I doubt they took pictures. Still, eve as the MTA works to secure the site and prevent unwanted access to dangerous areas and dark corners, the authority is tantalizingly leaving the art in place. “We have,” Donovan told me, “no intention of painting over or removing the artwork.”
After a jump, one of my favorite pieces of the street art from the Underbelly Project.