Critics’ Picks

2016.02.01/16 Bowery and Delancey St, 2016, digital ink-jet print, 19 7/8 x 23 7/8".

2016.02.01/16 Bowery and Delancey St, 2016, digital ink-jet print, 19 7/8 x 23 7/8".


Yuji Agematsu

The Power Station
3816 Commerce Street
January 27–March 9, 2018

On the rainy nights of February 1 and February 16, 2016, Yuji Agematsu walked an area around the Bowery and Delancey Street in New York to capture in photographs what he has become so keen at representing: the distinct effects of a specific time and place on objects. Shown alongside his signature displays of meticulously collected and archived street debris, the eponymous images in this series, “2016.02.01/16 Bowery and Delancey St,” 2016, each feature two parallel photographs that take on a frenetic cadence evocative of the unpredictable and emotive shifting of improvised music.

The glowing reflections of lights on wet pavement set an exuberant rhythm in a tightly cropped framing of two manhole covers captured by the camera from a steep, sideways angle, which is paired with a photograph that is its mirror image. In another work, a view of oncoming traffic and the silhouette of a misshapen object is captured from a low vantage point beside an image of the moon in a distant clearing in the clouds. On the gallery’s mezzanine, objects collected from the same nights’ excursions are strewn about the floor; a reflective traffic barricade, a broken umbrella, and a rusted steel pipe augment the experience of the photographs and make their origins palpable.

In Agematsu’s lustrous topographies of the city, the specificity of this junction of streets is rendered into kaleidoscopic moments. Tiny fragments of urban geography become monumental, and what is normally fleeting—the clichéd vestiges of pedestrian life in New York—is here a celebration of the rhapsody to be found in the spaces between things.