Biancoshock, “Borderlife” (2016) (All images by and courtesy Biancoshock)

Throughout the Lodi district of Milan, Italy, artist Biancoshock has transformed abandoned manholes into miniature subterranean rooms. Beneath the pavement, in vacant maintenance vaults, a cupid painting in a gaudy frame hangs in a tiny pink living room; a boxy kitchen is stocked with pots and pans; and a blue-tiled bathroom is complete with shower and towel.

Biancoshock, “Borderlife” (2016)

Called Borderlife, it’s a whimsical, comic installation, but it’s meant to draw attention to the dire situation facing the homeless in Europe, including in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, where hundreds of homeless people live in the sewer system, sleeping in tunnels heated by steam pipes.


Biancoshock, “Borderlife” (2016)

The underground communities are plagued with illness and drug use, as numerous photographers and videographers have documented. It’s a comment on the juxtaposition of a dystopian reality with the comforts of the nearby middle and upper classes, which largely ignore those living underground. As Biancoshock writes of the concept for the series, “If some problems cannot be avoided, make them comfortable.”

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.