I think repetition has a strong power, as long as you don’t take it for granted. It’s about how to repeat without the formulaic use of repetition.
— YUJI AGEMATSU
For 21 years, Yuji Agematsu worked as the building supervisor of the Donald Judd Foundation located at the corner of Spring and Mercer Streets in Soho. At the end of each workday, he would embark on one of his well-known walks, collecting urban detritus to be used for his miniature sculptures and other works, but also logging in journals and photographing the places where he found materials of interest. These rapid-fire digital photographs, taken over the course of two nights in February 2016, echo the minutely shifting rhythms of the city, capturing chance and fleeting details that contribute to Agematsu’s unique encyclopedia of the unnoticed and quickly vanishing.
Executed in pairs of snapshots, the ensuing photographic series comprising Bowery & Delancey st, nyc, 2016.02.01/16 produces a momentary phenomenal encounter between images taken at the same location over short segments of time. Altogether, Agematsu’s various modes of observation make up a singular and visionary practice of psychic mapmaking encompassing over 30 years.
2016.02.01, PM 7:11, Bowery & Delancey St., NYC, 2016
metal (hubcap), 18 7/8 x 18 7/8 x 2 5/8 inches (47.9 x 47.9 x 6.7 cm)
Agematsu shot so many photographs that he was unable to keep up with the editing, gradually gave up trying to do so, and by the end, had stopped looking at—or processing—what he’d shot. The idea that we photograph to find out what something will look like photographed became, effectively, to not bother finding out what something will look like photographed, to photograph for the sake of photographing. This is a high-stakes wager—have we so internalized what making and collecting images does to things that we no longer need to look at them? I am tempted to count these photos a prolific chronicle of human behavior, but this gets it backward. Agematsu is an anti-sociologist. He likes the city the way Beckett liked the circus. The city is a backdrop, a stage for something else, something that goes unsuppressed, a posthumous vibe, the illogical feeling that this work was made by someone who is already dead.
– ROBERT SNOWDEN (Yuji Agematsu, An Exhibition, Yale Union, 2014.)
2019.08.14 AM 10:50 – AM 10:51, 72 Sullivan Pl. between McKeever Pl. & Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY, Crown Heights, 2019
mixed media on paper, 9 x 20 x 3/4 inches (22.9 x 50.8 x 1.9 cm), framed: 12 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches (31.1 x 59.1 x 5.7 cm)
no time, no location, 2013-16, mixed media on painted cork tabletop, steel frame, 46 3/16 x 60 x 30 inches (117.3 x 152.4 x 76.2 cm)