Artist Biancoshock Turns Manhole Covers into Miniature Rooms

by CaroPosted on

A Milan, Italy based street artist known only as Biancoshock has been garnering some attention in the past few days for his curious new series of miniature rooms set within his local city streets. Underneath manhole covers and openings in the pavement, he has built elaborate and even luxurious interiors titled “Borderlife”, a series while surreal and evoking images of Alice’s tumbling rabbit-hole, takes its inspiration from a very real and serious issue.

Today, there are hundreds of people living in the tunnels of modern day Bucharest’s sewer system, and it’s not just homeless adults, but entire families. When communist Romania collapsed in 1989, impoverished children ended up in state institutions with deplorable conditions, eventually taking shelter underground where steam pipes provided heat during winter. But unlike Biancoshock’s spaces where master paintings hang and there’s food on the table, life in the underground is harsh and dangerous.


Photograph by Jen Tse, “Sewer Children” series

“An example of inspiration is Bucharest, where more than 600 people live underground, in the sewers,” the artist writes at his website. He points to photographs of Bucharest’s so-named “sewer children” like Jen Tse’s as his source of reference, who continue to live in these dwellings because they have neither the opportunity nor the capability to escape the only lives they have ever known.


Photograph by Jen Tse, “Sewer Children” series

This is not the first time that Biancoshock has experimented with the concept of street dwellings. In 2013, he installed a doormat at the entrance of a manhole cover in another Milan based project. Titled “Not Funny, Here I Live”, the piece is playful at first glance but it is no laughing matter as the viewer is confronted with the reality of homelessness. Another piece, titled “All You Can Eat” (2012) featured the ironic image of two men stuffing themselves inside of a common dumpster.


Biancoshock, “It’s Not Funny, Here I Live” (2013)

Biancoshock has made his career and even taken his namesake from his installations that ignite a “shock” in those who happen across it. To date, he has created over 650 so-called “interventions” in the streets with the goal of producing works of art that have to exist briefly in space but limitlessly in time through film and performance, comparing himself to “very close to the classic activist.” Adding, “If some problems can not be avoided, make them comfortable. Intervention that, parodically, speaks about people forced to live in extreme conditions, even coming to live in manholes.”

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