ux    Meitnerium (mt) was synthesized for the first time, ZX Spectrum home computers were put on sale, Blade Runner reached the cinemas, the high-jumper Yelena Isinbayeva was born and the World Cup with Naranjito as its mascot was held in the same year as a group of young people stole a load of plans of underground passages in Paris. 30 years ago, very few people knew about the beautiful, stimulating adventure that was starting in the dark labyrinths beneath the City of Lights. 30 years ago, six teenagers got together in a café near the Eiffel Tower. They went outside, opened a manhole and climbed down the stairs into the underground labyrinth. When they reached the tunnel they were looking for, the followed some wires which took them to the French Telecommunications Ministry. They didn’t have much difficulty getting into the ministry. Once inside, they saw that the guards weren’t in the guardhouse, they got hold of the keys and started opening doors. Behind one of those doors there was a large cupboard. Inside the cupboard was the treasure they were looking for: the maps of the tunnels and passages under Paris.

Since then, for three decades, the UX group (Urban
eXperiment) has gone across the city time and time again...underground. The collective was created with the purpose of infiltrating and is organised in a very particular way. It’s organized in several groups. For instance, there’s
a group with only women members, Mouse House, which infiltrates, takes charge of internal communication, radio messages and codes; another group, Untergunther, is in charge of restoration and conservation; La Mexicaine de Perforation group has built an underground cinema Les Arérens de Chaillot near the French Filmothequè, and they organize film shows...

The network of tunnels and passages under Paris is wider and more complex than you can imagine. The older tunnel and passage network has had electricity, water, the metro and other such constructions added to it. And all the members of UX, or almost all of them, have been able to see them and put them on their maps over the years.
They say that they’ve had the opportunity to go into the best known museums and, they say, they could have taken away works of art and many other highly valued pieces. But that isn’t UX collective’s objective. No-one’s ever said just how many people there are in UX. It’s reckoned there are around one hundred. Most of the members
are anonymous, although a few of them, as we’ll now explain, have lost their anonymity. Even so, nobody knows what you have to do to join this underground club. The members, for one reason or another, only invite people they know to take part.

The members of UX, thanks to the underground network, can get into almost any building or enclosure. And that’s what they’ve done in recent decades. The reason for these infiltrations, however, is what makes this group so special: the members of Untergunther have spent years going into abandoned monuments and restoring them. Their best known action, and the one which got the group in the press for the first time in 30 years, was when they renovated the Pantheon’s clock. The Pantheon’s 19th century clock stopped telling the time in the 60’s. All of a sudden, in 2007, local residents woke up to the sound of the clock’s chimes. Over several years, without anybody realising, eight members of UX had renovated and repaired the clock under the watchmakers Jean Baptiste Viot’ guidance. Of
course, what people do for the people is not usually to the leaders’ taste. After investigating, the police arrested the watchmaker and made his name public. But he didn’t sneak on this team members. The renovation team, on the other hand, announced that it was renovating another dozen clocks which would all be ready in the following few years. The same year, they renovated a 12th century crypt and a bunker in some government installations.

UX is not a political or social collective. The members are not typical revolutionaries or activists. They define themselves as an artistic organization. As well as taking care of cultural heritage, they investigate communication paths, organize cultural activities and map the underground city. They don’t have a manifesto. They don’t have a spokesperson. They “live” and work underground. We can’t think of a better way to be social and political.