Untergunther is part of UX (Urban eXperiment) a loose group who work in hidden corners of Paris, setting up a cinema, bar, restaurant, restoring crypts and organising events such as plays and readings in forgotten spaces. Their actions are carried out clandestinely, without the knowledge of authorities and the exact membership of the group is unknown, apparently with 150 members. UX also alledgedly includes an all-female team that specialises in gaining access to spaces and a team who works on a coded radio network.
Untergunther concentrate on the renovation and restoration of abandoned buildings and instruments. Their members include architects, historians and other specialists recruited for specific projects. They have renovated a C12 crypt, a government bunker, and most famously perhaps, they worked with a professional clockmaker to restore the clock on the Panthéon in Paris. For this they set up a workshop inside the structure and worked on it for a year without the knowledge of authorities, who only found out about the work upon its completion and announcement by the group. Untergunther were sued by officials for their trouble although the case was thrown out by the judge. Their subversive working practices expose official negligence and the non-sensical way in which laws surrounding private property and ownership lead to the destruction of heritage and the under-use of the most spectacular spaces in the city.
Emilie Boyer King, 'Undercover restorers fix Paris landmark's clock', The Guardian, 26 November 2007, International edition, p. 17.
Adam Sage, 'Underground 'terrorists' with a mission to save city's neglected heritage', The Times, 29 September 2007, p. 42.
"We would like to be able to replace the state in the areas it
is incompetent. But our means are limited and we can only do a
fraction of what needs to be done. There's so much to do in Paris
that we won't manage in our lifetime."
- Lazar Klausmann, The Guardian, 26 November 2007, International edition, p. 17
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