| GSAPPA4004 | Orpheus Underground | Galia Solomonoff | Duration: Spring, 2012 | ABSTRACT Publication

In every culture there are stories emphasizing the bravery and championing the heroics of a protagonist traveling into the unknown: the darkness: deep into the abyss.  The tale of Orpheus traveling into the underground, in search of his lost beloved Eurydice,  is one such story.  His determined descent architecturally manifests as a sequence of spaces; proceeding below, paralleling Orpheus’ procession.  The journey is elevated over the destination.  

The  twentieth century trolley station adjacent to the Delancey subway lines, now lies defunct, derelict and dilapidated.  It is a beautiful forgotten space under the New York streetscape.  In this underground grotto the desire to dig, carving into the earth, is magnetic. 

A new performance space, embraced by a series of galleries wend their way below.  These newly carved cultural space serve dual purpose; as a fallout shelter for when/if the surface above would ever prove hostile. Along the path light wells strategically draw light into specific spaces, at specific places; producing affective atmospheres by washing surfaces and sculpting space.  

-08’-9” Below:

A sculptural field of translucent, glowing Architectural elements pierce the ground plane: drawing light from above into the underground realm, marking the threshold between above and below, calling Orpheus, guiding his journey. Plugs of biodiversity, a groundscape of porous cement tiles complement the illuminated architectural surface elements, slow down; dance with the light. Find the entry, take a breathe, find courage, begin your decent, a new slow space is created and given back to the city.

Soon under, barely below the surface, the three rocky islands, home to the Sirens, an allure, a signal, a tempering chamber; transitioning from above into the world below is expanded through time and space. A monolithic light shaft disrupts a forest of columns, signaling the rise, the return from below. On the other side of the journey, returning to the surface, passing through the light prompts a deep reflection on the saga through the underworld, a reminder of the importance of the light that surrounds us.

... Past fusing with present.

-41’-8” Below:

 The Great Hall: a gathering space. Orpheus, play your lyre, summon Apollo. Sing on sweet Orpheus, search the depths, she is down, below, beneath. Push on, deeper into the darkness, for there a waits your beloved; Eurydice. Limited light.  Sound intensified.  Only Echos. Only Memory.  Orpheus, don’t look back! A crack in the concrete encasement looks back into Hades’ Chamber. 

Memory; a conscious reflection.

-72’-7” Below:

Talus caves form in the gaps between fallen rocks.  These surfaces offer an exchange of culture beneath. The first in a series of galleries. A small reprieve, a side step on the path to barter with Hades. Surrounded by silence and stone. Encased in concrete; a slow drip, drip, drip. Tension builds. Hades is near. Follow the water; the leading line. Light fades but for the works on display. Those He intends you to see.

-84’-10” Below:

The fracture: a threshold extending into the underworld. A fracture in space. A fracture in time. Above is forgotten, Orpheus is underground. The Littoral cave is flooded with water, tempering the space beneath.  A solitary path guides Orpheus underground, closer he comes to playing for Hades: closer to retrieving Eurydice. Guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed dog.  Three tiered stages await. Make your offer Orpheus; Find your sanctuary. Reaching towards the surface, the volume of the chamber morphs above, drawing light all along the walls: Orpheus, play.