There is a rumbling under Copenhagen. Archaeologists dig away in heavy competition with tunnel drillers. These excavations give Copenhagen a new past and a new future, but they also shape the city and our notions of it right here, right now. The Copenhagen Metro has not only provided a new public space; it has also occasioned Copenhageners to rethink the city as an imaginary entity. The urban terrain is not limited to the extensive and concrete reality of the material infrastructures found under any metropolis. Like other city spaces it is also constituted by the individual experiences and ideas of the urban dwellers.
We attribute a great deal of significance to the subterranean, even if most of us have never really spent time down there. The subterranean has always stimulated Man’s imagination, producing a vast amount of myths and stories that have inspired artists to push underground for centuries. Descending below and telling stories of the nether world is one of the oldest and most persistent cultural and aesthetical traditions. The symbolic references of this descent have changed in the course of time and across cultures, but it continues to have major significance and relevance within the urban production and narration of the contemporary metropolis.
SUBTERRAMANIA seeks to re-introduce the underground journey as an artistic practice that can explore and challenge our definition of the city. We want to follow the artists in their furtive underground activities, to render hidden and forgotten underground sites accessible, to record and tell some of the many stories that the subterranean continues to foster and, ultimately, to reposition this unexposed field in our urban consciousness.
SUBTERRAMANIA is organized by The Office for Underground Affairs, a research and exhibition platform that has arranged exhibitions and events concerning the physical and imaginative spaces of the underground since 2007. This platform serves as a framework for artistic collaborations and events in or related to the underground examining this distinctive and often overlooked field of inquiry through a wide range of strategies, locations, media and presentational initiatives – for instance by way of a number of actual journeys into the underground where artists are asked to produce works and performances at various subterranean locations in and around Copenhagen.
In parallel with these DESCENTS into the actual underground, The Office organizes SUBSALONS, a series of evenings with films and talks on the underground that constitute an interdisciplinary forum for The Office, its collaborators and other interested parties.