© 2019 Anna Van Lenten

Sandhogs / Gina LeVay

February 2011

Exhibit opening, screening, & talk

Tuesday February 1, 2011, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Dennis O'Neil, 40-year sandhog veteran and Allyson Torrisi, Director of Photography at Popular Mechanics

Sandhogs are miners 800 feet below the streets of Manhattan, tunneling bedrock to construct the largest unified infrastructure project in New York City history—the 60 mile long City Water Tunnel #3. The future of  Gotham depends on the efforts of these unseen miners, as this new water channel will supplement the two existing, decrepit tunnels, preventing a potentially catastrophic water shortage. The imminent completion of the new tunnel will ensure that fresh, clean water continues to flow to every resident of the city. Excavation of CWT#3 began in 1970. For each mile tunneled, approximately one Sandhog has lost his life in a mining related accident. Generations of Sandhogs have accepted this daunting "man-a-mile" formula as part of the job, but few New Yorkers know about this mammoth excavation—or the story of the Sandhogs themselves.

 

In 2003 Gina LeVay was granted rare access to photograph the Sandhogs,in the tunnel and at off-site locations. The Sandhog Project is an original portal to the unseen characters and systems of underground New York—revealing the essential "art form" of mining in the modernized city. The project is a multi-faceted work of photo, video, web, and installation art, which explores the figurative and literal overlay, and mutual dependency of the surface city and this underground world. With the Sandhogs book (powerhouse 2009) and accompanying exhibitions, LeVay introduces the public to this vibrant and intricate subculture, bringing their rich, extraordinary, subterranean imagery to the surface.

 

GINA LEVAY works both in the U.S. and abroad on editorial, commercial and independent projects. Her award-winning work “The Sandhog Project,” was exhibited as a large-scale photo and video installation at New York’s Grand Central Terminal and is now a book entitled SANDHOGS (Powerhouse, Fall 2009). Gina is an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and holds an MFA in Photography and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts. She currently is based in New York City.

 

All photos © Gina LeVay.