This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery cheap nike air max
or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for "Urban eXperiment." UX is sort of like an artist's collective, but far from being avant-garde¡ªconfronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new¡ªits only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of "restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn't have the means to maintain." The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris.
What has made much of this work possible is UX's mastery,cheap nike air max uk
established 30 years ago and refined since, of the city's network of underground passageways¡ªhundreds of miles of interconnected telecom, electricity, and water tunnels, sewers, catacombs, subways, and centuries-old quarries. Like computer hackers who crack digital networks and surreptitiously take control of key machines, members of UX carry out clandestine missions throughout Paris' supposedly secure underground tunnels and rooms. The group routinely uses the tunnels to access restoration sites and stage film festivals, for example, in the disused basements of government buildings.
UX's most sensational caper (to be revealed so far, at least) was completed in 2006. A cadre spent months infiltrating the Pantheon, the grand structure in Paris that houses the remains of France's most cherished citizens. Eight restorers built their own secret workshop in a storeroom, which they wired for electricity and Internet access and outfitted with armchairs, tools, a fridge, and a hot plate. During the course of a year, they painstakingly restored the Pantheon's 19th- century clock, which had not chimed nike air max 2014 uk
since the 1960s. Those in the neighborhood must have been shocked to hear the clock sound for the first time in decades: the hour, the half hour, the quarter hour.
Eight years ago, the French government didn't nike blazer shoes
know UX existed. When their exploits first trickled out into the press, the group's members were deemed by some to be dangerous outlaws, thieves, even potential inspiration for terrorists. Still, a few officials can't conceal their admiration. Mention UX to Sylvie Gautron of the Paris police¡ªher specialty is monitoring the city's old quarries¡ªand she breaks into a wide smile. In an era when ubiquitous GPS and microprecise mapping threaten to squeeze all the mystery from our great world cities, UX seems to know, and indeed to own, a whole other, deeper, hidden layer of Paris. It claims the entire nike blazer uk
city, above- and belowground, as its canvas; its members say they can access every last government building, every narrow telecom tunnel. Does Gautron believe this? "It's possible," she says. "Everything they do is very intense."
It is not at all hard to steal a Picasso, Lazar Kunstmann tells me. One of UX's early members and the group's unofficial spokesman, Kunstmann¡ªthe name is almost certainly a pseudonym, given its superhero-like German meaning, "Art-man"¡ªis fortyish, bald, black-clad, warm, and witty. We're sitting in the back room of a student caf¨¦, downing espressos and discussing the spectacular theft in May 2010 of 100 million euros' worth of paintings from the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris. He disputes the contention of a police spokesperson that this was a sophisticated operation. According to an article published in Le Monde, a solitary individual unscrewed a window frame at 3:50 am, cut a padlock from a gate, and strode through the galleries lifting one work each by L¨¦ger, Braque, Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso. "The thief was perfectly informed," the officer told the newspaper. If he hadn't known the window had a vibration detector, he would've just broken it. If he hadn't known the alarm and part of the security system were broken, he wouldn't have wandered throughout the museum. If he hadn't known the schedule of night rounds, he wouldn't have arrived in the middle nike blazer high mens uk
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