The underground art rebels of Paris

Posted November 26th, 2012 under France, Street Art


The obsessively secretive members of an underground art collective have spent the last 30 years surreptitiously staging events in tunnels beneath Paris. They say they never ask permission – and never ask for subsidies.

Kirsty Lang reports for the BBC: “We’re standing nervously on the pavement, trying not to feel self-conscious as we furtively scrutinise each passer-by.

After weeks of negotiation, we have a meeting with someone who says he is a member of the highly secretive French artists’ collective – UX, as they are known for short – outside a town hall in the south of Paris. It is late on a Sunday night but the street is still quite busy.

Finally I notice a young man dressed entirely in black apart from a red beret and a small rucksack on his back. He hovers for a moment and then motions us to follow him. Our destination is the catacombs, the tunnels that run beneath the pavements of Paris.

A few minutes later Tristan (not his real name) and two companions are pulling the heavy steel cover off a manhole. “Quick, quick,” he says, “before the police come.”

I stare down a seemingly endless black hole before stepping gingerly on to a rusty ladder and start to clamber down.

There are several more ladders after that before we finally reach the bottom. To my great relief, there are no rats – we go deeper than the rats ever do – but it is pitch black and very wet.

The water is ankle deep and my shoes are soaked through. “It’s fine, if you’re properly dressed,” laughs Tristan as he splashes ahead in his rubber boots.

Using the flashlight on my phone, we do our best to follow him. Along the way I notice some colourful graffiti and a painting of an evil looking cat.”

Read on at the BBC.

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