I recently read an article about a group known only as UX (Urban eXperiment) that operate in Paris and break into centuries-old buildings across Paris, not to loot or steal but to restore. They claim responsibility for 15 capers in which they conducted covert restorations by accessing the city’s city-wide network of tunnels. It sounds like something out of a movie but this group really exists. Their most extraordinary feat took place in 2006 when eight UX members infiltrated the Pantheon in Paris. They not only entered the building but they actually set-up a secret workshop which they wired for electricity and internet access. For one year the group performed repairs on the building’s 19th century clock. When they finished, the clock once again kept time and chimed every quarter hour as it had done decades earlier.
The 100+/- member group operates like an artists collective, they have no manifesto and membership is by invitation only. They have a cellular structure with sub-groups specialising in cartography, infiltration, tunnelling, masonry, internal communications, archiving, cultural programming, and restoration. They carry out their mission via a network of hundreds of kilometers of secret underground passageways including sewers, electricity and water tunnels, subways,catacombs and centuries-old quarries.
The only mandate of this group is to keep its secrecy. It is in this way that it differs from other groups that have emerged over the years, GuerrillaGardening.org springs to mind.
Now here is a video for your viewing pleasure: