In 2009, an abandoned NYC subway station slowly morphed from ghost status to the world's best kept urban art status. Untouched for years, the space was completely transformed over the course of a year, with over 100 artists adding their unique styles under the watchful eye of curators Workhorse and PAC.

We Own The Night: The Art Of The Underbelly Project, a newly released book from Rizzoli New York details every moment of the remarkable project.

 

When thinking about the tunnel we asked ourselves, "If no one will see it, will it still be important. - Workhorse

 

The book, most significantly, let's us view the underbelly project with an unprecedented degree of completion. Workhorse and PAC closed the doors to the station after they deemed the painting complete. There was no exhibition, no opening, and only small glimpses of its glory emerged for public consumption —just a few articles and an exhibition. The remarkable thing about the project, aside from simply discovering uncharted territory beneath NYC, is the breadth of of contributors to this secret, subterranean gallery. 

Considered in concert with Art In The Streets, MoCA LA's blockbuster exhibition of 2011, the Underbelly Project legacy reads as an organic, free vision against the growing institutional incorporation of street art. With contributions from Gaia, Ron English, Faile, Anthony Lister, Revok, Dennis McNett, Kid Zoom, Haze, and many more, Workhouse and PAC's creation has left a hermetically sealed capsule of a who's who in street art. And, best of all, each of the 103 artist's left just what they wanted.

Workhorse and PAC have inspired similar projects around the world. However, it is impossible to believe any will match the sensational size of NYC. Think of We Own The Night as not just a log of the Underbelly Project, but also as a guide book to contemporary street art. The power of the publication is that nothing else comes close in terms of revealing the scope of the true graffiti and street art landscape. 

© We Own The Night by Workhorse and PAC, Rizzoli New York, 2012.

Image Credits: © TheUnderBellyProject, We Own The Night, Rizzoli, 2012; and © Ian Cox, We Own The Night, Rizzoli, 2012.