The Underbelly Project, re-vandalized (image from

The Underbelly Project caused a stir last week both because of its expansive murals and because of its politics: the very illegal project’s organizers trespassed to get into the abandoned subway station that hosted their exhibition, and what was intended as a way to “protect” street art just served to brush it with an air of hotshot elitism. We’ve argued that Underbelly was a step backward for street art, and it appears some have agreed with us. The underground exhibition has been infiltrated, and the murals run over with spraypaint, Gothamist reports.

Unofficial, unapproved of photos show tags covering up some of the more visible murals. Underbelly presented a very tempting challenge- they tried to take Street Art away from the street, but now the street has gone down to them in an act of schadenfreude that only reaffirms how misguided the original project was.

Trespassers have also been arrested trying to find the site of the Underbelly Project, another consequence that seems detrimental for an art “exhibition.” Reddit user Davin900 made it to the site once safely, but got caught the second time. Inordinatelyaverage reported his own Underbelly experiences, which included 24 hours in custody. Apparently police patrol the area several times a day and wait for trespassers; they have reportedly made over 200 arrests so far.

The only thing sillier than boasting about the (secret) completion of the project is trying to find it after it’s gotten such massive media attention. The best way to deal with the Underbelly crew isn’t to go ahead and confront them on their own turf, it’s to ignore it and get on with making real art in public. Isn’t that the point?

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

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