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In an Abandoned Subway Tunnel, an Art Installation Condemning Gun Violence

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    In an Abandoned Subway Tunnel, an Art Installation Condemning Gun Violence

    In an Abandoned Subway Tunnel, an Art Installation Condemning Gun Violence

    In an abandoned subway tunnel deep under Nevins Street, artist Phil America has reclaimed a fraction of New York City's unused space to rally against gun violence. The artist-activist's latest installation, The Perilous Fight, is only accessible through an illicit and dangerous wander through the subway tunnels. It's an installation of a different kind in a location that resonates with the theme of his work. On display in this "gallery space for no one" is a series of flags embroidered with guns that each represent a separate instance of gun violence in America.

    As Phil America explains on his website,

    The flags are a tribute, a memory, and a reminder; they are the promise that those lost in these terrible events are not forgotten. They serve to remind that gun violence in America is so prevalent that it has become a part of our national identity.

    Here, we caught up with Phil America about why he chose this particular location for the installation, and what that location means to the art.

    Why did you chose to create this installation in an abandoned subway tunnel?

    Gallery space in New York, like any other big city in the world, is nearly unaffordable to an artist. If we want to show work we have to have the support both financially and logistically of the art world. In some way we have to give up power which ultimately leads to us giving up our voice and the art itself gets lost and diluted in the process.

    There's so much unused space in NYC, especially underground, so I figured it would be interesting to reclaim some of that space in the name of art.

    How did you come across the spot?

    Actually a photographer friend of mine, Ashflip, showed me the spot. I've explored a lot of the tunnels in most of the bigger subways systems in the world so I was aware of the spot prior to this but this location wasn't chosen until recently.

    How did you pull this off?

    That's a hard question, mostly because of the danger answering it can potentially put me in. The police watch everything I do and are already investigating it so let me explain to you what the person who actually did the installation of the artwork would have to do to create it: First they'd have to find the place and figure out the blueprint of it and use the keys to get in. To enter the spot they'd need to time the trains going both ways perfectly and run in the tunnel on the live tracks between trains, avoiding the deadly electric third rail. Then, they'd have to go down into the depths of the tunnels with big flashlights trying to make sense of a part of the city that's long since been forgotten. Once you arrive at the abandoned station you would start the install with a generator and lights and all that it takes to install an "art gallery" there.

    Have you ever been chased by the MTA?

    Of course.

    Are you worried that sharing the installation with the press will create the risk of exposing it and yourself to the MTA?

    Well, the people I'd be worried about finding it already know it's there, so at this point l don't know if it matters much. The burden of proof is on them to prove I went down there and if they truly want to prosecute me for trespassing to an unused space to show artwork commemorating lives lost to mass shootings, they will.

    How many people have come to see it?

    I'm not really sure. There is a huge urbex (urban explorer) community and I know a lot of them have gone to see it, but beyond that I don't know. I personally don't condone anyone going for the obvious reasons, but I'm not really sure who all has gone.

    How long will it be up?

    It could be gone right now as we speak and it could be there forever. Only time will tell.

    Phil America
    You do not have permission to view this gallery.
    This gallery has 2 photos.
    Pat ------> NRA Lifetime Endowment Member #FAAFO

    Well, it's underground where few, if any, will see it. That's a start.


      A bunch of AK's on a flag condems gun violence? SMH...


        That's it? 3 flags? The graffiti and urban/hobo architecture down there can be incredible...this gets its own storyline? Yawn


          Doesn't give a shit about the cops who risk injury having to play cat and mouse with this idiot around the tracks and tunnels. So deep, so significant. Gives his all for his art. A future Rembrandt. A legend in his own mind.
          Gonna wish he has a gun when some night he runs into a coupla' pipe hitting homies down there.
          Ballistic: "Grif... You are my legal eagle spirit animal...."


            If he spaced those out a lil further I could practice El Pres. That would be useful.


              I guess my front yard is art??

              (not mine but close enough)


                I kind of like a couple of those flags.
                Seems very pro gun to me.
                I'd say the artist failed miserably in his attempt to tie it into violence of any kind.
                "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Martin Luther King, Jr.


                  Very lame art exhibit.


                    That underground tunnel was a big thing a few years ago. It is trespassing and illegal to go there, but he exaggerated his courage a little. You don't have to cross the tracks, if you come from the other side, and the worst thing you have to do is walk down some stairs to grade level, and go into the entrance, which does not have a locked door. I have not been there, because I have no interest in trespassing on NYC private property, but I know people who have. It has artwork all over done by mostly graffiti/underground artists. I wouldn't go in there if you paid me, but if I did, I wouldn't without carrying.
                    Last edited by MSA77; 05-02-2016, 01:14 AM.
                    NRA Benefactor Life
                    NRA Instructor & RSO
                    NYSRPA, SAF, GOA


                      "The police watch everything I do " Tin foil a little tight there Sparky?
                      Take a young person shooting.... Take 2 or more if you can...


                        Underground in an abandoned subway tunnel? Seems like it's condemning guns and pro rapey lol


                          Unbelievable.. Tokens reminders of gun violence (crimes) commemorated with more crimes (criminal trssspass, entering restricted area)
                          Guess gun violence didn't mean that much to him, if it did he'd go big, rob a bank, attack the NRA headquarters, or something..
                          Hunter, NRA Life Member, NYS Deplorable


                          Pro Political Term Limits
                          Anti High Capacity Mag Limits
                          Fuck Andrew Cuomo's Suck my Ass Act


                            I'd expect to see more than 3 flags for risking arrest or dealing with homeless people in an abandoned subway tunnel.