I’ll let you in on a secret. I love urban exploration (UX). There’s an undefined thing about the whole concept of exploring abandoned buildings and places that peaks my interest. Lately after coming home from work, feeling exhausted, I’ve spent my time reading UX reports. In one of the reports I found a reference to something called les UX. An organization that combines UX with art and a mission. A mission to restore neglected places in Paris.

The underground movement has been a major interest for me for years. When I read about les UX my mind wandered off to my favorite artist, Banksy. I recently saw the “Exit through the gift shop” documentary and I do see some similarities between him and this organization.

Let’s dive into what les UX is. You’ll find way more information in the resources section!

What is les UX?

It’s hard to say exactly what les UX is. According to Wikipedia les UX is an underground organization focusing on improving hidden, overlooked and neglected corners of Paris. For instance, in complete secrecy they repaired the Pantheon clock. This particular clock hadn’t been working for many decades. Suddenly, the Parisians woke up to find it chiming.

The catacombs are great for hiding

Obviously, they’re food and movie buffs. The Paris police discovered that les UX had rigged
a full equipped cinema down in the catacombs near the Trocadero. It wasn’t just an ordinary cinema with a projector and silver screen. No. They even rigged a fully equipped bar, a restaurant, several phone lines and a  close circuit camera setup. The police found a bunch of movies – nothing offensive, just lots of noir and some mainstream movies.When the police went back to this cinema three days after, all they found was a note stating “Do not try to find us”.

Art seem to proper describe this organization. Going a bit further digging through the articles, they’ve even got a history stealing art from the Museum of Modern Art of some 100 millions euros’ worth. The newspaper Le Monde reported that a solitary individual had manipulated a window frame in order to break in. The funny thing was that the window was rigged with vibration detectors – which wasn’t working. And the thief knew that. How could he know that? Obviously les UX knew the internal routines at the museum and had perfect understanding of the security as well. One funny incident, besides than theft, was that they notified another museum how poor their security was, by placing a memo on the security officers desk at night when no one was around! That’s just … Wow!

So. This organization is both art and urban exploration centric. Given that we now hit the nail on the head regarding their interests, lets look further into how they are organized. les UX is organized into some teams. First of we got the Mouse House, which is an all female team specializing in infiltration. Then they got a team doing restoration, dubbed the Untergunther team. This team did the Pantheon clock restoration mentioned earlier and the team includes architects and historians. Next, La Mexicaine De Perforation – roughly translated to The Mexican Consolidated Drilling Authority. This team does clandestine artistic events.  Finally we got the unnamed teams. They got teams running an internal messaging system and coded radio network, a team providing a database, a team organizing underground shows and finally a team doing photography. I got a feeling they’ve got even more teams than this.

Nobody knows who they are

Why is it so interesting?

It is interesting because they’re a part of the underground. There’s a great deal of secrecy surrounding this organization. Secrecy always make things interesting! Think of Banksy. Everybody has seen his art. Very few know who he is, or has seen his face. There’s an aura of mystery surrounding this guy and he is talented. Very talented. Who is he? What’s his story? How do he manage to pull things off? The more questions that arises, the more interesting he becomes. The same goes for les UX. They are obviously doing something good that amazes people. People are asking who they are, but no answers exist. That’s the same aura Banksy got.

Les UX is also interesting because they blend in urban exploration in their works. The urban explorers creed is never to do something illegally and leave the places they visit untouched. Les UX obviously don’t care much about that. But they do share the same ground idea as the UX community by paying visits to locations hard to reach for normal citizens. That’s interesting. Even though what they do is illegal.