An extraordinary underground museum of graffiti art has been painstakingly assembled in the ruins of a formerly squatted grocery store in the north of Paris. Organized by two artists, Lek and Sowat, forty French artists and crews took over the building after police had cleared the space of its residents.
Sowat told Dangerous Minds:
On August 12, 2010, Lek and I found an abandoned supermarket in the north of Paris. For a year, in the greatest of secrets, we continuously wandered in this 430,000 sq ft monument to paint murals and organize an illegal artistic residency, inviting forty French graffiti artists to collaborate with us, from the first to the last generation of the graffiti movement. Together we built a Mausoleum, a temple dedicated to our disappearing underground culture, slowly being replaced by street art and its global pop aesthetics. Amongst other things, we made a stop motion movie of the whole experience, showing a years worth of work in 7 minutes of high speed sequence shot, a bit like watching Graffiti through the windows of New York Subway system.
To illustrate this movie, we chose Philip Glass’ ‘Opening’ track. When we reached out for permission to use the music, we were offered Mr Glass’ own master of the song, a version that is less known by the public than the track that was put out in the ‘glassworks’ album. We didn’t do this movie for financial reasons, we wanted it to be free and accessible to the most people possible.
The Mausolée space reflects French social, political and human drama today, as few museums or more traditional art spaces could. Due to the nature of the space, people can’t really visit there, so the artists have published a book commemorating their 40,000 m² “mausoleum” of graffiti art as well as posting this gorgeous Koyaanisqatsi-esque time-lapse video of how the project came together.
It’s a knockout.